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5. Contributions

5.1. Paying Initial Contributions

5.1.1 Why do clients have to pay an initial contribution?

Legal Aid NSW operates with limited funds, and the collection of contributions from our clients is an important source of funding which allows us to maintain the legal services we provide. The provision of legal services by Legal Aid NSW involves significant costs and expenses.

Imposing a contribution communicates to our clients and the community generally, that legal aid is not free and legally aided persons should contribute to the costs of providing the legal service.

5.1.2 When does an initial contribution need to be paid?

When a grant of aid is made, the grant letter informs the legally aided person of the amount of the initial contribution and the due date for payment.

If the grant letter has not been sent directly to the client, their lawyer must provide this information to the client as soon as possible.

There is a client information sheet which sets out the details for paying contributions (staff internal link only) which is attached to the grant letter.

5.1.3 What is the due date?

The due date is 30 days from the date of the grant letter.

By the due date, either:

  • the initial contribution must be paid in full, or
  • the client must have entered into a payment arrangement.

5.1.4 What happens if the initial contribution is not paid by the due date?

  • The initial contribution becomes a debt to Legal Aid NSW.
  • Interest will accrue on the initial contribution amount.
  • As payment of the initial contribution is a condition of the grant of aid,  legal aid may be terminated where the contribution amount is $1000 or more  [see Termination Policy].

5.1.5 My client can't pay the initial contribution

Contributions can be paid by instalments. If you arrange for your client to pay by instalments, you must inform the Accounts Receivable Unit (ARU) on accounts.rcble@legalaid.nsw.gov.au so that automated reminder letters are not sent to your client.

Interest is charged on debts being paid by instalments once the thirty days has passed.

If your client owns real property, the initial contribution can be secured by a Charge – please see charge procedures for more information.

The initial contribution may be reduced in exceptional circumstances.

See Guideline 5.2 for exceptional circumstances test.

Note: Once the matter is concluded, the initial contribution can only be changed to a lower amount by a write-off. Only officers with a delegation can authorise a write-off.

Clients who do not pay their contribution will not be eligible for future grants of legal aid unless the debt is paid or Legal Aid NSW is satisfied there are exceptional circumstances.

5.1.6 What payment methods are available?

For inhouse clients the following payment options are available:

  • By BPAY using internet banking. Your BPAY details can be found in the letter you received from Legal Aid NSW advising you of your debt. You can also obtain your BPAY details from any Legal Aid NSW office or by calling us on (02) 9219 5189.
  • By Centrepay. Please complete the Centrepay form and take it to your nearest Centrelink office or Legal Aid NSW office. If your debt is $500 or more, please call us on (02) 9219 5189 before completing a Centrepay form.
  • By Credit Card (MasterCard or Visa) online or by calling us on (02) 9219 5189. There is a 0.4% surcharge for credit card payments. When paying online you need to enter your File Reference, which is "F" followed by your Legal Aid File ID. e.g. If your Legal Aid File ID is 14C001122, your File Reference is F14C001122. Pay online now.
  • By Cheque or Money Order made payable to Legal Aid NSW and posted to: Legal Aid NSW, PO Box K847, Haymarket NSW 1240.

Date Last Published: 01/07/2019