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Information Sheet - Commonwealth Property Mediation Pilot

(PDF version)

What is the Property Mediation Pilot?

As part of the Commonwealth’s Women’s Economic Security statement, legal aid commissions around the country have been funded to administer a Property Mediation Pilot to help separating couples use mediation to divide a small amount of property. The Pilot will assist separating couples who may not otherwise qualify for a grant of legal aid.

When does the Property Mediation Pilot start?

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved the Pilot which commences on 1 February 2020.  It will run over two years and will fund up to 100 mediations over that period.

Are there eligibility policies?

Yes, the Board has approved eligibility policies. The policies set out the type of property we can assist with. We have a more generous Means Test which will capture applicants who may otherwise not be eligible for legal aid. The Merit Test looks at whether mediation will assist in resolving the dispute and the applicant’s commitment to resolving the dispute. If the first party meets the eligibility criteria, the second party will automatically qualify for funding.

Will clients be required to pay contributions?

Where a client receives cash as a result of the property settlement, they will be expected to contribute to the costs of the mediation. This will include the cost of the solicitor’s fees with each party also contributing to half of the costs of the Mediator. The Fee Scale can be accessed here.

How will clients access the Pilot?

Intake into the Pilot will be managed through the Family Law Inhouse Practice. Once a client is identified as suitable, the Family Dispute Resolution Service at Legal Aid NSW will contact the other party: see intake information. The other party can be privately represented or can be funded through the Pilot.

Is the Pilot only for property matters?

Yes. If a person also has children’s matters, then the children’s matters will be conducted through a grant of legal aid in the normal way.

What happens if the dispute does not settle at mediation?

If the dispute is not resolved through mediation, the parties will need to apply for a grant of legal aid and the published eligibility policies for property matters will apply. This may mean parties who are eligible for funding under the Pilot may not qualify for a grant of legal aid.

How will the applications be processed by Grants?

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved trialling a new service type called Early Resolution Assistance (ERA) Funding will be made available through ERA for applicants eligible for the Property Mediation Pilot.   ERA will be administered through Grants Online. It is not a grant of aid which means, for example, there is no right of appeal to the Legal Aid Review Committee. It will have a more streamlined application and administration processes than the processes that apply to applications for grants of aid.