How to apply for further assistance, or additional assistance

How to apply for further assistance, or additional assistance

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may provide further assistance or additional assistance if, either:

  • the previous grant was not enough to resolve the matter and a stage of matter limit or cost ceiling has not yet been reached (for example, a family law trial which takes longer than expected)
  • the scope of the matter changes (for example, in a criminal law matter, a new presentment with extra or significantly different charges is filed. Extra charges may mean VLA should increase the grant from the standard rate to the consolidated rate).

See Payments for information about:

  • stage of matter limits
  • cost ceilings
  • standard and consolidated rates in criminal law matters.

Applications for further assistance

VLA will not:

  • increase the limit for a stage of a matter
  • provide further assistance retrospectively.

However, a grant of legal assistance may be extended to another stage of the matter. This is called providing further assistance.

Any further assistance must not take the total amount of the grant of legal assistance to more than the cost ceiling (if any) for the total matter. That is, the costs which VLA has previously incurred must be taken into account.

Additional information requirements

If the assigned lawyer wants VLA to provide further assistance in a matter for which was previously processed through the standard grants assessment process, then the lawyer must give VLA, in writing:

  • a progress report about the matter to the end of the previous stage
  • details of all costs, disbursements and counsel’s fees claimed for the previous stage
  • a statement of the merits of continuing to assist the matter
  • details of the further assistance required
    and
  • estimates of the costs, disbursements and counsel’s fees for the next stage.

Seeking additional assistance for a new matter

If a person has applied to VLA for a grant of legal assistance before, and they have a new matter for which they seek a grant (additional assistance), then, usually, they will have to make a new application.

However, VLA does not require a new application if:

  • the person is seeking additional assistance for a criminal law matter to be heard and determined in the Magistrates’ Court
    and
  • their previous grant for another Magistrates’ Court criminal law matter is less than three months old.

If a previous application was refused

If VLA refused a person’s previous application and the new application is about the same matter, then the new application will be treated as a request for VLA to internally reconsider the decision. See: Reconsideration and review of VLA’s decisions about grants of assistance.

Appeals for which a grant of assistance was provided at an earlier stage

An appeal is a ‘new matter’ even if the appeal is for a matter for which VLA previously made a grant of legal assistance. VLA will require the person to make a new application for a grant of legal assistance.

If a previous grant was approved 12 months ago or more

If VLA approved a person’s previous grant of legal assistance 12 months ago or more, then VLA will usually require the assisted person to fill in VLA’s financial statement form before VLA considers their new application.

The financial statement form is an abbreviated version of the initial application form and requires the assisted person to provide information relevant only to their financial situation.

The person must also sign the Financial Statement form. In doing so, they are declaring it is true and correct.

How an overdue payment of a contribution may affect any further or additional grant of assistance

VLA may refuse an application from a person seeking a new grant of legal assistance or further assistance if they are more than 60 days late in paying, either:

  • their contribution
  • an instalment of their contribution in relation to an earlier or existing grant.

See: Decision to grant or refuse assistance

VLA will write to the person to tell them it intends to refuse them a grant of legal assistance. However, usually, VLA will give the person a period of 14 days from the date of its letter in which the person can:

  • explain why they did not pay the previous amount
    and
  • ask VLA to change its decision about the amount or method of payment of the contribution.

VLA may then make a grant of legal assistance to the person if:

  • VLA considers their explanations (about why they did not pay the previous amount and about why the amount should be reduced) are satisfactory
    and
  • the person qualifies for a grant of legal assistance.

See: Overdue contribution payments