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A to Z guide to policies

You can use this A to Z guide to find out whether legal aid is available for a particular legal problem. There is also a summary of which criminal, family and civil law matters legal aid is available for. Find out more about getting legal help.

Legal Aid NSW can only assist you if your case falls within certain policies and guidelines. Find out more about the tests that we apply to determine if you are eligible for legal aid.

  1. Adoption

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal Aid is available for certain adoption proceedings.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For a grant of legal aid to be made, the following tests must be satisfied:

    • the Means test,
    • Merit Test A, and
    • the Availability of Funds test, and
    • there are exceptional circumstances.
  2. Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available in most cases if you are applying for an apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) against someone.

    Legal aid IS NOT available in ADVO matters if:

    • the application is made by a police officer; or
    • Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that the application for an order is frivolous or vexatious, or
    • there are no reasonable prospects of success.

    Legal aid is only available to defend an apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) application in exceptional circumstances.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    To apply for an ADVO - The applicant must meet a means test and the availability of funds test.

    To defend an ADVO – The applicant must meet the means test, availability of funds test and there must be exceptional circumstances.

     

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:

  3. Apprehended Personal Violence Order

    Is legal aid available?

    For applicants:

    Legal aid is NOT AVAILABLE to apply for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) against someone, unless the applicant is a child.

    For defendants:

    Legal aid may be available to defend an APVO made against you.

    Which tests apply?

    • the Means Test,
    • the Availability of Funds test, and

    either:

    • you are a victim of domestic violence, or
    • there are exceptional circumstances.

    Link to Policy Online

  4. Assault

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available to defend an assault charge in the Local Court.

    Which tests apply?

    • Means Test,
    • Availability of Funds Test, and

    either

    • the offence carries a term of imprisonment as an available penalty, or
    • there are exceptional circumstances.

    Link to Policy Online

  5. Bail application

    Local Court

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to any person in custody to make their first bail application in the Local Court. Only the Availability of Funds Test is applied for the first bail application for a person in custody.

    For subsequent bail applications, the following eligibility requirements apply:

    • the Means Test, and
    • the Availability of Funds Test.

    Link to Policy Online

    Supreme Court

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for bail applications in the Supreme Court.

    Which tests apply?

    For legal aid to be granted in these types of matters, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • Availability of Funds Test

    Link to Policy Online

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  6. Bankruptcy

    Is legal aid available?

    No. Legal Aid is not available for bankruptcy cases.

    You may be able to get help from the Law Society of NSW's Pro Bono Scheme. Contact them on 02 9926 0364.

    Alternatively, you can get advice from a private lawyer by calling the Law Society of NSW Solicitor Referral Service on 1800 422 713.

  7. Car accidents – see also Personal Injury

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not available for damage to any property by a motor vehicle.

    Legal Aid is not available to applicants for personal injury matters.


    Many private solicitors represent people injured in car accidents on a no win/no fee basis. The Law Society of NSW Solicitor Referral Service can refer you to a private solicitor in your area. Tel: 9926 0300 or 1300 888 529 (outside Sydney).

     
    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:
     
  8. Care & Protection (Child welfare)

    Is legal aid available?

    If the Department of Family and Community Services makes an application about the family to the Children's Court, legal aid may be available for particular types of applications.

    Legal aid is available for care and protection proceedings under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) in the Children's Court and the legal aid applicant is:

    • is a person who has parental responsibility for the child or young person or
    • has had an aspect of parental responsibility removed by order of a court

    Legal aid is available for care and protection proceedings under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) in the Children's Court where the legal aid applicant is:

    • a person who is significant to the care, welfare and well-being of the child or young person and
    • who has a genuine concern for the safety, welfare and well-being of the child or young person

    Legal aid is available to a child or young persons (or for a child representative appointed by the court) for care and protection proceedings in the Children's Court.

    Legal aid is available for care and protection appeals in the District, Supreme and High Court.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    The tests that must be satisfied for aid to be granted in these matters depends on the category of matter (refer to Family Guideline 2.14). However, generally the applicant must satisfy the following tests:

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test A
    • The Availability of Funds Test

    In addition to this, any person who does not have parental responsibility or from whom an aspect of parental responsibility has been removed must also satisfy Legal Aid NSW that:

    • there is a benefit to the child or young person that might be gained by the applicant receiving legal aid.

    There are no tests applicable where the applicant for legal aid is a child or young person or a child representative appointed by the court.

    Care & Protection – external mediation

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for external care and protection mediation to a person, a child or a young person who has a grant of legal aid for current Children's Court proceedings under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, 1998 (NSW).

    Which tests apply?

    For legal aid to be granted in these matters, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the Court has referred the legal aid applicant to external care and protection mediation.

    In addition to this, applicants other than children or young person's must also satisfy:

    • the Means Test
    • the Availability of Funds Test.

    Care & Protection – contact dispute mediation

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for:

    • All children and young people who are the subject or potential subject of a section 86 contact application to be represented at the mediation
    • Other parties to be represented at the mediation, but only if certain criteria are met, including that the applicant for aid is at significant disadvantage

    Which tests apply?

    No tests apply for children and young people.

    For a grant of legal aid to be made to other parties the following tests must be satisfied:

    • the Means Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test, and
    • it is reasonable to provide representation, and  
    • the applicant is at significant disadvantage

    See Policy Online for further details on care and protection policies

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:

  9. Child abduction

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for court orders to locate and recover children who have been abducted as part of a family dispute. If there is a risk children will be taken out of the country you can get urgent legal advice from Legal Aid NSW and within 24 hours, get a court order to have the child/ren placed on the Airport Watchlist so they will not be able to leave the country.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • Availability of Funds Test.
  10. Child support and child maintenance

    Child Support

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available for child support matters in certain circumstances, such as if you have to go to court for your matter or appeal a decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    Which tests apply?

    The tests that apply depend on the type of matter you have. Some or all of the following tests may apply:

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • the Availability of Funds Test
    • the applicant for legal aid is unable to adequately represent themselves before the Court or Tribunal..

    See Legal Aid NSW Child Support Service for information about the services available.

    Link to Policy Online

    Child Maintenance

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available for certain child maintenance matters if you have to go to Court to make the application.

    Which tests apply?

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • the Availability of Funds Test

    Child Support Parentage Matters

    Legal aid may be available for certain parentage matters. This includes applying to the court to either

    • ask for a declaration of parentage (s106A) because they are a parent of the child, or
    • oppose a declaration of parentage (s107) because they are not a parent of the child.

    Which tests apply?

    The tests that apply depend on the type of matter you have. The include, but are not limited to:

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • the Availability of Funds Test

    See Legal Aid NSW Child Support Service for information about the services available.

    Link to Policy Online

  11. Children's criminal matters

    Is legal aid available?

    Yes. Legal aid is available to children for criminal matters.

    Which tests apply ?

    This depends on the type of matter and Court. For children with criminal matters in the Children's Court, and trial or sentence matters in the District and Supreme Courts, the only test that applies is:

    • Availability of Funds Test.

    If the criminal matter is an appeal to another Court, the following tests apply:

    • Merit Test A, and
    • Availability of Funds Test.

    For children with criminal matters in the Local Court:

    • Means Test, and
    • Availability of Funds Test.

    Link to Policy Online

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:

  12. Circle Court

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available to a person who is participating in a restorative justice program where the Court makes an order in relation to Circle Sentencing.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Availability of Funds Test, and
    • Legal Aid is satisfied that it is appropriate in the particular circumstances of the matter that the applicant has legal representation.
  13. Civil Liberties

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available if you have had your civil liberties breached by a person in a position of authority such as a police officer, prison officer, immigration detention officer, a teacher, a youth worker or other carer.

    A breach of civil liberties might include an unlawful search, arrest or detainment, threats, or being touched or physically handled.

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test, and
    • Availability of Funds Test.

    Link to Policy Online

  14. Committals (Local Court)

    Is legal aid available?

    Yes. Legal aid is available for committal proceedings including case conferencing, applications for witnesses and committal hearings.

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must meet the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Availability of Funds Test.

    Link to Policy Online

  15. Compulsory schooling orders

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for parents and children for compulsory schooling order matters in the Children's Court.

    Link to Policy Online

    Legal aid is also available for any prosecutions in the Local Court under the Education Act.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply?

    Children applicants need only satisfy the Availability of Funds Test and parents need to also satisfy the Means Test.

  16. Centrelink, pensions and other Government benefits

    Is legal aid available?

    Only in certain circumstances. Legal aid may be available to dispute a decision about your pension, social security benefit or other social security allowance at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    Which tests apply ?

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test A
    • Availability of Funds Test, and
    • the case is particularly complicated or other special reason.

    Link to Policy Online

  17. Consumer protection

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available to consumers for matters including unfair insurance contracts, unfair mortgage agreements and other consumer credit and debt matters.

    Which tests apply?

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • Availability of Funds Test, and
    • there is a Public Interest in Legal Aid NSW assisting with this matter.

    Link to Policy Online

    Other resources:

  18. Coronial Inquests

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available for matters relating to a coronial inquest in limited circumstances. Please contact the Coronial Inquest Unit on 1300 888 529 for more information.insurance contracts, unfair mortgage agreements and other consumer credit and debt matters.

  19. Debt

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal Aid NSW provides free legal advice for credit and debt matters.  

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  20. Discrimination

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available for discrimination which may occur:

    • within the education system
    • in the provision of goods and services
    • in the provision of accommodation.

    Discrimination may include matters relating to:

    • sexual discrimination
    • race discrimination
    • gender discrimination
    • age discrimination
    • discrimination on the basis of disability
    • sexual harassment
    • discrimination on the basis of health
    • discrimination on the basis of marital status.

    Legal aid is available for discrimination matters which are before the Equal Opportunity Division of NCAT. Legal aid is also available for an appeal from the Equal Opportunity Division of NCAT

    Legal aid is not available under this policy for matters which are about intra association disputes, for example, between members of unions or clubs, or for defamation proceedings.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  21. Divorce and nullity of marriage

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for a court application relating to the divorce or nullity of marriage.

    Link to policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must meet the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test B
    • the Availability of Funds Test and
    • Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that:
      • special circumstances exist, and
      • the court application is imperative, and
      • the applicant is at special disadvantage, and
      • certain aspects of the court application have a complexity warranting legal aid, and because of this complexity it would not be reasonable to expect the applicant for aid to conduct the proceedings.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  22. DNA testing

    Is legal aid available?

    DNA parentage testing

    Legal aid is available for DNA testing and legal representation where there is a dispute about parentage and legal aid has been granted for parenting or child support proceedings.

    See Child support/Child maintenance.

    DNA samples for criminal matters

    The police may take a DNA sample from a person convicted of a serious indictable offence. Legal Aid NSW Prisoners Legal Service can provide advice on this procedure.

    The police may also take a DNA sample from a suspect.  Legal aid is available in certain circumstances where a Court Attendance Notice is being contested in the Local Court.

    If the person is under 18 years, the police need a court order before taking the sample. The Legal Aid NSW Youth Hotline 1800 10 18 10 can provide advice.

  23. Driving and traffic offences
    • Is legal aid available?

    No, legal aid is generally not available for driving and traffic offences. Please visit Guided Pathway for traffic offences: this tool has useful information about traffic matters, including what to do if you get a penalty notice, licence suspension or court attendance notice.

    Other resources:

  24. Drug Court matters

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to applicants for matters before the Drug Court sitting as the Drug Court or another court of law.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    Legal Aid solicitors provide legal assistance to all defendants appearing before the Drug Court. There is no means test applied in Drug Court matters.

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must meet the

    • Availability of Funds Test
  25. Employment

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available to an employee in employment law matters including unfair dismissals, recovery of entitlements, review of unfair contracts and general protections. Legal aid will only be available where the employee faces hardship, including financial and personal disadvantage.


    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • Availability of Funds Test
    • At Social Disadvantage Test
  26. Environmental matters

    Land and Environment Court prosecutions

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to defendants who are to be prosecuted in the Land and Environment Court under environmental protection legislation including the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW).

    Which tests apply?
    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must meet the;

    • Means Test
    • The Unpaid Contributions Test, and
    • There is a real possibility of a term of imprisonment being imposed or
    • There are exceptional circumstances.
  27. Extended supervision orders, continuing detention orders, post-conviction orders, control orders and serious crime prevention orders

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for;

    • Opposing an application made by the Attorney General under the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006 (NSW) – No Merit Test applies.
    • Appeals the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006 (NSW) against an extended supervision order or continuing detention order
    • Defending or applying for a variation or revocation of an extended supervision order or continuing detention order under the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006 (NSW)
    • Opposing an application for a post-conviction order that follows a finding of guilt or a conviction for a criminal offence. For legal aid to be available, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the conditions of the order unreasonably restrict the applicant’s personal freedom and there must be reasonable prospects either of successfully opposing the application or of the application being granted on amended terms that place less restriction on the liberty of the applicant.
    • An application to vary, or appeal a post-conviction order following a finding of guilt or a conviction for a criminal offence. For legal aid to be available, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the conditions of the order unreasonably restrict the applicant’s personal freedom
    • Opposing applications made under the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2012. For legal aid to be available, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the conditions of the order unreasonably restrict the applicant’s personal freedom and there must be reasonable prospects either of successfully opposing the application or of the application being granted on amended terms that place less restriction on the liberty of the applicant.
    • Applications to vary, revoke or appeal orders made under ss14 and 19 of the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2012. For legal aid to be available, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the conditions of the order unreasonably restrict the applicant’s personal freedom.
    • Opposing an application under the Crimes (Serious Crime Prevention Orders) Act 2016 (NSW) – No Merit Test applies, and if the applicant is a corporation, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied there are exceptional circumstances.
    • Applicants whose interests may be affected by the making of a serious crime prevention order against another person, and persons who were a party to the original proceedings so that they can be heard on an application to vary or revoke an order under the Crimes (Serious Crime Prevention Orders) Act 2016 (NSW).
    • Appealing or defending or applying for a variation or revocation of a serious crime prevention order under the Crimes (Serious Crime Prevention Orders) Act 2016 (NSW). If the applicant is a corporation, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied there are exceptional circumstances.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply?

    Except as noted above, for legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test
    • Availability of Funds Test
  28. Extradition proceedings

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for certain types of proceedings under the Extradition Act 1988 (Cth), which include;

    • Extradition matters under section 19 and
    • An appeal under s21 in relation to a section 19 order.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test
  29. Family dispute resolution

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to:

    • parents, and
    • persons who are not parents

    for family dispute resolution (FDR) about parenting matters under the Family Law Act, 1975 (Cth).

    If your parenting matter could be or is being conducted with your property settlement matter under the Family Law Act, 1975 (Cth), legal aid is only available for your parenting matter if:

    • the applicant has been granted or is eligible for legal aid for the property settlement proceedings, or
    • there are exceptional circumstances.

    Legal Aid NSW may grant for FDR at any stage of a matter including:

    • before court proceedings have been started
    • after court proceedings have been started, or
    • after final orders have been made.

    Legal aid is also available for FDR for legal aid applicants seeking an order for spousal or de facto maintenance or to increase spousal or de facto maintenance and in relation to property settlement in certain limited circumstances.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted in these matters, the applicant must satisfy:

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test B
    • the Availability of Funds Test, and
    • it is appropriate for the applicant to attend mediation

    In addition to this, persons who are not parents must also satisfy Legal Aid NSW that:

    • they are significant to the care, welfare and development of the relevant child, and
    • it is in the child's best interests

    Where orders are sought to vary or discharge an existing parenting order or to set aside a registered parenting plan, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that one of the following circumstances apply:

    • there has been a material change in circumstances since the parenting orders were made, or
    • the court application is imperative, eg when a change in circumstances makes it impossible for the legal aid applicant to comply with the original court order.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  30. Family law - contempt of court and breach of court orders

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for a family law matter where there has been contempt of court.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted in these matters the applicant must satisfy the following tests:

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test,
    • Merit Test B
    • the Availability of Funds Test

    The applicant for legal aid must be the respondent in the proceedings and Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that there is a real possibility of a term of imprisonment being imposed.

  31. Fines

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal Aid NSW can only provide legal advice on these matters. Call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 589 to find a service near you or use our map to find your closest Legal Aid NSW service. 

     

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:

  32. Guardianship

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to a person who is subject to a guardianship or financial management order to revoke, review or appeal decisions.

    In certain circumstances legal aid may be available to other people in these matters, such as a carer or relative.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply?

    This depends on the type of legal matter and who the person applying for legal aid is. No tests apply to the person who is the subject of the proceedings.

  33. Housing – Loss of home

    see also Tenancy

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available in certain circumstances where there is likelihood that the applicant may lose their home in the following situations;

    • as a direct result of the proceedings for which the applicant is seeking aid, for example;
      • ejectment proceedings
      • eviction proceedings
      • defending matters relating to a mortgagee's repossession of the applicant's home
      • proceedings relating to mortgage disputes
      • family provision matters under Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) in circumstances where there is a likelihood that the applicant may lose their home.

    Note: Legal aid is not available for matters where the applicant losing their home is an indirect result of the proceedings for example, claims for debt due where the applicant's home may have been sold to meet a judgment or adverse costs order.

    • if there is a likelihood that the applicant will lose their home and Legal Aid NSW considers that it is necessary to take proceedings to protect the applicant's interest in the home in which they normally reside. This may include family disputes where there is likelihood the applicant may lose their home where the person has contributed financially or otherwise to the home.

    Legal aid is not available for building disputes or disputes which result from commercial or investment transactions conducted by the applicant even if there is likelihood that the applicant could lose their home.

    Legal aid is not available for ordinary disputes between family members over property and money.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  34. Human rights

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for public interest human rights matters where:

    • The matter is of significant wider public interest and
    • Raises significant human rights issues.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must be at special disadvantage and must meet the;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test

    Note: Where the applicant is applying for legal aid to make submissions to the Minister in relation to a cancellation of a visa under s501 of the Migration Act 1958, Legal Aid NSW must also be satisfied that the applicant is either at special disadvantage or is illiterate or unable to communicate in either written or oral English.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:

  35. Immigration

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for limited types of migration matters.

    Legal aid is available for representation in migration matters, including refugee matters, in the Federal Court, the Federal Magistrates Court or the High Court.

    Legal aid is only available in the following circumstances:

    • If there are differences of judicial opinion that relate to a substantive issue in dispute that has not been settled by the Full Court of the Federal Court or the High Court, or
    • The proceedings seek to challenge the lawfulness of detention, but this does not include a challenge to a decision about a visa or a deportation order, or
    • Where there is an arguable error of law.


    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test.
  36. Independent Children's Lawyer

    Is legal aid available?

    When families separate and go to court, an independent children's representative may be appointed for the child to advise the judge on what the child's wishes are and what is likely to be the best result for the child.

    Legal aid is available for an independent children's lawyer in court proceedings if:

    • a court makes an order for the appointment of an independent children's lawyer and asks Legal Aid NSW to arrange for an independent children's lawyer to provide the separate representation and
    • Legal Aid NSW decides that it is reasonable to provide a grant of aid for the independent children's lawyer.

    Legal Aid NSW is not bound to make a grant of aid for an independent children's lawyer.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    If an independent children's lawyer is appointed there is no means or merit test applied when determining the grant of aid.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  37. Insurance

    Legal aid may be available for disputes with insurance companies. See Consumer Protection matters.

  38. Local Court - Criminal matters

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for criminal proceedings in the Local Court in the following circumstances;

    • Court attendance notice issued by the Police or Centrelink
    • Court attendance notice issued by a person other than the Policy or Centrelink

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Availability of Funds Test; and
    • There is a real possibility of a term of imprisonment being imposed or
    • There are exceptional circumstances.

    Note: Legal aid is not available for Local Court defended hearings where the defence is frivolous or has no possible prospects of success.

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  39. Local Court - Civil matters

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not generally available for civil matters in the Local Court.

  40. Local Court - Appealing a decision

    Appeals to the District Court

    Legal aid is available in certain circumstances to appeal a decision of the Local Court to the District Court sitting in its criminal jurisdiction.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test, and
    • It is a type of matter for which legal aid is available in the Local Court proceedings, and
    • Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that it is an appropriate expenditure of limited public funds, and
    • If it is a severity appeal it must be an appeal against a term of imprisonment or Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances.

    Appeals to the Supreme Court

    Legal aid is available for appeals from decisions of magistrates in the Local Court to the Supreme Court.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test, and
    • It is a type of matter for which legal aid is available in the Local Court proceedings, and
    • Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that it is an appropriate expenditure of limited public funds

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publication:

  41. Mental health

    The Mental Health Advocacy Service (02- 9747 6155) provides free legal advice and assistance about mental health law. The service represents people in inquiries that relate to their detention and treatment in mental health facilities and the community, and the management of their money. They also provide representation for people with other disabilities before the Guardianship Tribunal.

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for the following matters under the Mental Health Act, 2007 (NSW):

    • Mental Health Inquiry before the Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Involuntary patients before the Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Further review of an involuntary patient before the Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Forensic patients before Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Matters under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act
    • Applications for renewal of a Community Treatment Order
    • Community Treatment Order application made from the community
    • Appeals to the Mental Health Review Tribunal – assessable person
    • Appeals to the Mental Health Review Tribunal – involuntary patients
    • Appeals against Community Treatment Orders
    • Appeals to the Supreme Court
    • Application to revoke an order under NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009
    • Appeals against orders under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act
    • Review of a decision of the NSW Trustee
    • Review of a decision of the Public Guardian
    • Appeal by a primary carer against a continuing detention order
    • Appeal by a primary carer against an order under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act
    • Review of a decision of the NSW Trustee or Public Guardian by primary carer

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted in the majority of these matters, the following tests must be satisfied:

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test.

    Applicants in the following matters only need to satisfy the Availability of Funds Test:

    • Mental Health Inquiry before the Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Involuntary patients before the Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Forensic patients before Mental Health Review Tribunal
    • Matters under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act
    • Appeals to the Mental Health Review Tribunal – assessable person

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  42. Mortgage disputes

    See also Housing – loss of home

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available in certain circumstances for disputes over a mortgage debt if the applicant is at risk of losing their home.  

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test

    For more information see the following Legal Aid NSW publications:

  43. National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) matters

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid may be available for:

    • representation in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of a reviewable decision under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013, and
    • an appeal from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to a reviewable decision under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests:

    • the means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test
  44. Neighbourhood disputes

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not available for neighbourhood disputes.

  45. Part 7 of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act

    Legal aid is available for the following proceedings under Part 7 of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 (NSW):

    i) Initial applications under Part 7 which includes:

    • petitions to the Governor for a review of a conviction or sentence
    • applications to the Supreme Court for an inquiry into a conviction or sentence, and
    • applications to an appropriate Review Panel established to review a conviction or sentence.

    ii) Proceedings in the Court of Criminal Appeal under Part 7 for:

    • a matter that is referred by the Minister or the Supreme Court to be dealt with as an appeal,
    • or if a conviction is to be quashed following a free pardon or an inquiry.

    iii) Inquiries conducted by a judicial officer under Part 7 of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001. (Note: for these matters, special supplementary funding must be made available to enable Legal Aid NSW to provide legal assistance.)

    For legal aid to be granted in the above matters, the applicant must satisfy the following tests:

    • the Means Test
    • the Merit Test A; and
    • the Availability of Funds Test, and
    • for (i) and (ii) Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that it is an appropriate expenditure of limited legal aid funds.

    Note: Legal aid is not available for proceedings relating to summary offences where Part 2 of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 (NSW) applies.

  46. Personal Injury

    see also car accidents

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not available for personal injury matters.


     

  47. Preventative detention orders

    see also Extended Supervision orders, continuing detention orders and control orders

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to an applicant who is currently or was previously the subject of a preventative detention order under Division 104 or 105 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) for;

    • proceedings for a remedy in relation to a preventative detention order or treatment under such an order, including an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and
    • making a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman regarding the making of a preventative detention order or treatment under such an order.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Means Test
    • Merit Test
    • Availability of Funds Test
  48. Preventative detention, contact order and prohibited order matters

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for advice and representation in preventative detention, contact order and prohibited contact order matters.

    • Link to Policy Online

      Which tests apply ?

    • There is no means test applied for the criminal advice service.
    • For representation, the applicant must generally satisfy the following tests;
      • Means Test
      • Merit Test
      • Availability of Funds Test
  49. Prisoners

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to prisoners for representation in the following types of matters:

    • Hearings before the Parole Authority
    • Life Re-sentencing matters
    • Review Hearings in relation to a segregation direction
    • Matters conducted by visiting justices (in certain gaols)
    • Supreme Court reviews

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • the Availability of Funds Test

    For legal aid to be granted for Supreme Court reviews, the following tests must also be satisfied:

    • Merit Test A, and
    • It is an appropriate expenditure of limited public funds, and
    • The decision has or could have a substantial effect on the prisoner's parole. 

    The Prisoners Legal Service (PLS) provides a range of services to prisoners in NSW. The service visits NSW gaols and provides free and confidential legal advice and minor assistance. Prisoners can contact the PLS on the Common Auto Dial List (CADL) as a free call - press #11 or contact 02-8688 3888.

  50. Privacy

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not available for privacy issues.  

    There are laws protecting the privacy of information held about a person by State or Commonwealth government departments, or private organisations.  If there are any concerns about how an organisation has collected, used or disclosed any private information about a person, contact the relevant State or Commonwealth agency.

  51. Professional negligence

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal Aid is not available for professional negligence matters.

  52. Property settlement

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for family law property settlements in the following circumstances;

    • For family dispute resolution (FDR) to resolve property settlement matters which occur after the breakdown of marriage or de facto relationship under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
    • For court proceedings about property settlement matters arising after the breakdown of marriage under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the applicant has attempted FDR or participating in FDR is not appropriate in the circumstances

    For FDR and court proceedings, Legal Aid NSW must also be satisfied that the dispute relates to:

    • the matrimonial or de facto home, and/or
    • a deferred benefit, such as superannuation benefits, and
    • Legal Aid NSW Is satisfied that:
      • the separation of the parties is final, and
      • the estimated equity in the home and/or deferred benefit is more than $20,000, and
      • where the dispute relates to the matrimonial or de facto home:  
        • it is likely that the applicant will be able to retain the home or there are exceptional circumstances, and
        • the applicant for legal aid is also seeking the resolution of a related family law matter, or it is appropriate to grant legal aid because of special circumstances.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must also satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test B
    • Availability of Funds Test.
  53. Public Health Orders under the Public Health Act

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for proceedings under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) for:

    • defending an application to NCAT to confirm a Public Health Order made in relation to a Category 5 medical condition
    • Applications to NCAT for review of a Public Health Order made in relation to a Category 4 medical condition.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must also satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test.
  54. Sexual Assault Communications Privilege

    Is legal aid available?

    1. Representation for protected confiders in sexual assault matters Legal aid is available to a person who is a protected confider seeking to oppose:

    • the production of protected confidences, and/or
    • the abduction of evidence in relation to protected confidence in a sexual assault criminal trial.

    Which tests apply?

    For legal aid to be granted the following test must be satisfied:

    There is no means test applied in these matters.

    Note: For the purposes of this policy 'protected confidences' are communications protected under Chapter 6, Part 5, Division 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW).

    2. Representation in appeals under s5F of the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 (NSW)
    Legal aid is available for an appeal in relation to these matters under s5F of the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 (NSW).

    Which tests apply?

    For legal aid to be granted the following tests must be satisfied:

    Legal Aid NSW must also be satisfied that:

    • it is an appropriate expenditure of limited public legal aid funds, and
    • there is a significant issue of public interest.

    Note: Legal aid may also be available to protected confiders for appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court.

  55. Special medical procedures

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to parents for proceedings in the Family Court relating to a special medical procedure involving a child.

    Legal aid is available to independent children's lawyers appointed by a court in relation to the proceedings.

    Which tests apply?

    Applicants who are parents must satisfy the following tests:

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test.

    See Guardianship in relation to special treatment matters conducted in the Guardianship Division of NCAT.

  56. Spousal and de facto maintenance – see also Family Dispute Resolution

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for spousal and de facto maintenance matters to:

    • apply to the court under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) for an order for spousal or de facto maintenance, or to increase spousal or de facto maintenance or
    • defend a court application for spousal or de facto maintenance or for increased spousal or de facto maintenance or
    • apply to reduce the amount payable under a spousal or de facto maintenance order or
    • defend the application to reduce the amount payable under a spousal or de facto maintenance order.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted the applicant must meet the following eligibility tests:

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test B
    • The Availability of Funds Test, and

    Legal Aid NSW must also be satisfied that:

    • the applicant has attempted FDR, or
    • participating in FDR is not appropriate in the circumstances.

    Where the applicant for legal aid is the applicant to the proceedings, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that:

    • the other party's whereabouts are known, or substituted service is likely to be successful, and
    • there is good reason to believe that the other party has the capacity, or is likely to have the capacity in the future, to pay spouse or de facto maintenance, or increased maintenance.
  57. Tenancy

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available for tenancy matters for consumers and may include the following types of matters;

    • Tenancy disputes
    • Eviction matters
    • Security of tenure matters, and
    • Protected tenant matters.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must meet the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test.

    Note: Legal aid is not available for tenancy applications concerning fair rent where there is not point of law involved. Tenants' advocates are located around NSW and assist tenants with their tenancy issues.

  58. Veterans

    The Legal Aid NSW Veterans' Advocacy Service (02-9219 5148 ) provides free legal advice and minor assistance to all veterans and their dependants on entitlement to disability and service pensions, gold card eligibility, war widow’s pensions, allowances and entitlements from the Department of Veterans' Affairs..

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is available to war veterans or their dependants in a wide range of matters.

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    Legal aid is available for war veterans' matters in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • Merit Test and
    • Availability of Funds Test.

    For appeals from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • Availability of Funds Test, and
    • Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied there may be a strong prospect of a substantial benefit to be gained by the applicant in appealing from a decision of the AAT.
  59. Victim's compensation

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not generally available for victim's compensation matters.

  60. Wills

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal aid is not available for a dispute over a will or estate, including family provision claims.

    Legal Aid is not available for assistance in making a will or applying for probate.

  61. Working with Children

    Is legal aid available?

    Legal Aid is available for NCAT proceedings under Part 4 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW) where:

    • the applicant's employment or protection employment is affected by the clearance decision or disqualification, or
    • the applicant is an authorised carer or prospective authorised carer, or
    • Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances.

    Legal Aid is available for appeals from a decision of NCAT under Part 4 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW).

    Link to Policy Online

    Which tests apply ?

    For legal aid to be granted, the applicant must satisfy the following tests;

    • the Means Test
    • the Unpaid Contributions Test
    • Merit Test A
    • the Availability of Funds Test.
  62. Criminal offences
  63. Appeals