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7. Means Test

7.11. Verification of means

7.11.1 Verification required

Legal Aid NSW requires that applicants for legal aid verify their means (both income and assets) as disclosed in the legal aid application.

If the Means Test is applied to the means of any financially associated person, their means must also be verified.

7.11.2 Verification of applicant's means

The following table sets out what documentation is required to verify means subject to the exceptions set out at 7.11.4.

Verification of means - income

Documents or copies to be sighted

Centrelink recipients

for Local Court criminal matters (except committals, matters where a plea of not guilty has been entered and matters requiring expenditure), a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card, and

for all other matters, a current Centrelink Statement of Benefit specifying that the applicant receives an income support payment and the rate of payment.

Note: the applicant may provide a signed consent for Legal Aid NSW to access his or her Centrelink details to obtain such verification.

Note: Centrelink recipients who do not receive a benefit at the maximum rate are required to provide verification of their other income (see below).

Note: See exceptions at 7.11.4.

applicants earning a wage/salary

a recent payslip, or

a letter from the applicant's employer

self-employed applicants

the most recent tax return, and

balance sheets/profit and loss statements

Verification of means - assets

Documents or copies to be sighted

Liquid assets

for Local Court criminal matters (except committals, matters where a plea of not guilty has been entered and matters requiring expenditure), no verification required (see also exceptions at 7.11.4), and

for all other matters, recent statements showing three months operation on all bank accounts held by the applicant as disclosed in the application form, unless the applicant falls within the exceptions at 7.11.4

Investments

for Local Court criminal matters (except committals, matters where a plea of not guilty has been entered and matters requiring expenditure), no verification required, and

for all other matters, documentation relating to any investments held by the applicant, as disclosed in the application form

Non-liquid assets

documents should be requested when the officer determining the application considers it appropriate.

7.11.3 Result of non verification of means – application for legal aid refused

A grant of aid will not be made until the means of the applicant have been verified by the determining officer unless the exceptions below apply.

Legal Aid NSW will refuse the application for legal aid if the required documents verifying means are not produced within a reasonable period of time of being requested.

7.11.4 Exceptions – verification not required

The following table sets out the policy when verification of means is not required.

Types of matters

Verification not required

Centrelink beneficiaries

Verification of applicant's means is not required where:

· the applicant is receiving a maximum Centrelink income support payment

· any financially associated person is also receiving a maximum Centrelink income support payment, and

· the total amount held in all bank accounts disclosed in the application for the applicant and any financially associated person is $1500 or less.

Emergency grants

Verification of applicant's means is not required prior to an emergency grant of legal aid being made.

However, within 14 days of the emergency grant being made, the applicant must lodge with Legal Aid NSW:

· a formal application for legal aid, and

· documents verifying the applicant's means.

Refusing applications

Verification of applicant's means is not required if it is apparent from the legal aid application that the application will be refused (whether on merit, means or type of matter).

If this refusal subsequently becomes the subject of an appeal to the Legal Aid Review Committee, then verification may be required.

Summary crime matters

Verification of applicant's means is not required if:

· the application for aid is for representation in a local court criminal matter (excluding committals)

· the applicant is in custody

· the total amount held in all bank accounts disclosed in the application for the applicant and any financially associated person is $1500 or less, and

· any financially associated person is receiving a maximum Centrelink income support payment.

7.11.5 Discretion to waive verification

The following table sets the discretion to waive the verification of means.

Discretion available

When is the discretion available?

To waive verification

There is a discretion to waive the requirement for verification of means in special circumstances.

Legal Aid NSW officers authorised under the Delegation Instrument may exercise this discretion.

In duty solicitor matters this discretion may also be exercised by private legal practitioners authorised to grant legal aid under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979.


Date Last Published: 06/06/2019
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