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7. Means Test

7.8. Means Test determines initial contribution

7.8.1 Initial contribution under s36(1)(a)

The Means Test is used to assess contributions under section 36(1)(a) of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979.

7.8.2 When contributions are levied

Initial contributions under s36(1)(a) of the Act are levied, in accordance with the Means Test, in all matters except for the matters listed in 7.8.6.

7.8.3 Income contribution

An income contribution is payable based on the applicant's net assessable income. The amount of contribution is set out in the following tables.

Table a. For all matters in which a contribution is payable, except Local Court criminal matters. (For Local Court criminal matters where a contribution is payable, see Table b).

Net Assessable Income Contribution
Maximum rate Centrelink recipient (see 7.5.7 ) $75
$0 - $213 $75
$214 - $234 $150
$235 - $255 $225
$256 - $276 $300
$277 - $297 $375
$298 - $318 $450
$319 - $339 $565
$340 - $360 $720
$361 - $381 $915

$381 - $400

$1,150

Legal aid will only be available in exceptional circumstances where the net assessable income exceeds $400. For these matters, the contributions are stated below.

Net Assessable Income Contribution

$401 - $421

$422 - $442

$1,425

$1,740 

$443 - $463 $2,095
$464 - $484 $2,490
$485 - $500 $2,925, plus $500 for every $10 of net assessable income in excess of $500.

Table b. For Local Court criminal matters in which a contribution is payable.

Net Assessable Income Contribution
Maximum rate Centrelink recipient (see 7.5.7 ) $75
$0 - $400 $75

Legal aid will only be available in exceptional circumstances where the net assessable income exceeds $400. For these matters, the contributions are stated below.

Net Assessable Income Contribution

$401 - $442

$443 - $484

$150

$225

$485 - $500 $225, plus $50 for every $10 of net assessable income in excess of $500.

7.8.4 Assets contribution

An assets contribution is payable based on the applicant's net assessable assets. Net assessable assets are the applicant's gross assessable assets less excluded assets (see 7.6.3 – 7.6.6).

Assets contributions for most matters are calculated in accordance with the formula in the following table. The actual contributions payable are set out in 7.13.1 A modified contribution scale applies in Local Court criminal matters where a plea of not guilty has been entered or requiring expenditure. It is set out in 7.13.2.

Net Assessable Assets

Contribution

up to $100

nil

$101 - $500

$100

$501 - $3000

$100 plus 65% of assets within this range

$3000 +

$1725 plus 100% of assets over $3000


7.8.5 Total contribution

The following table sets out how the total contribution amount is calculated.

Total contribution

Income contribution plus assets contribution

The total contribution to be levied under the Means Test is the sum of the income contribution and the assets contribution.

Ineligible for aid if total contribution exceeds allowable amount

If the total contribution exceeds the allowable amount for the type of matter, the applicant does not satisfy the Means Test.

Discretion may be exercised to grant legal aid to an applicant who does not satisfy the Means Test (see 7.10.2).


7.8.6 Matters exempt from initial contributions

Initial contributions under s36(1)(a) are not payable:

  • in any matters which are not means tested (see 7.2), or
  • in any of the following matters:

Criminal

  • Local Court Duty matters
  • the protected person in apprehended domestic violence order proceedings
  • representation provided by the Prisoners' Legal Service

Family

  • proceedings under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
  • child support matters
  • Family Dispute Resolution conferences

Civil

  • persons the subject of the proceedings in Mental Health Advocacy Service matters
  • immigration matters
  • coronial inquest matters



Date Last Published: 24/06/2016
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