How to fill in the application form

How to fill in the application form

Giving full and accurate information

The person applying for a grant of legal assistance (or their lawyer on their behalf) must fill out the relevant application form fully and accurately. Answer every question.

The only exceptions to this rule are if the form directs the person applying to skip any questions. Otherwise, if the answer is ‘nil’ or ‘not applicable', then write that.

Filling in the standard application form

The information a person gives on the standard application form (and any necessary additional information or documents) must be enough for Victoria Legal Aid's (VLA's) assessment unit to be able to decide:

If the person is applying to VLA with the help of a lawyer, then their lawyer must submit the application via ATLAS.

If the person has applied to VLA directly (that is, not through a lawyer) and has not provided enough information in or with their standard application form for VLA to decide these issues, then VLA will contact the person and ask for further details.

Naming a preferred lawyer in the application

If the person who is applying uses the standard application form, then they may insert the name of the lawyer (if any) they would prefer to act for them if VLA make a grant of legal assistance in accordance with VLA’s allocation of work to lawyers and law firm guidelines.

If the person does not choose a lawyer, then, if VLA makes a grant of legal assistance, VLA will assign the matter to a lawyer in accordance with VLA’s allocation of work to lawyers and law firms guidelines.

Filling in the simplified application form

The information which a person gives their lawyer on the simplified application form and which is submitted on ATLAS (and any necessary additional information or documents which their lawyer certifies they have on file) must be enough for VLA’s assessment unit to be able to decide:

  • if necessary, whether the person or the matter comes within any relevant special circumstances
  • whether the person qualifies financially for a grant under the means test (unless the person is exempt from the means test)
  • what, if any, contribution VLA may require the person to make if VLA makes a grant of legal assistance
  • the conditions which VLA may put on the grant, including the stage to which VLA may make an initial grant of legal assistance.

See the means test for information about the necessary documentary proofs of means to attach.

The information the person gives on the simplified application form (and any necessary additional information or documents which their lawyer certifies they have on file and, in some cases, must attach to the form) must also be enough to enable their lawyer to recommend to VLA that:

If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance to the person, then VLA may later check the lawyer’s case file to ensure that:

  • the necessary records are on the file
    and
  • they support VLA’s decision to grant legal assistance.

See: Compliance reviews.

Assumption of preference for the lawyer applying

If the person who is applying uses the simplified application form, then VLA assumes that the person prefers the lawyer through whom they are applying to act for them if VLA makes a grant of legal assistance.

If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance, then VLA will assign the matter to this lawyer unless, either:

  • the lawyer has a conflict of interest
  • there is another reason why VLA should not assign the matter to them.

See:

Signing the application form

The person applying for a grant of legal assistance must sign the application form. However, a legally-appointed guardian must sign the form on the applicant's behalf if the applicant does not have enough mental competence to understand what it is they are signing and its effect.

If the person is using the standard application form, then their lawyer (if any) must sign the Lawyer’s Certificate.

See also: Applications by children.

‘Signing’ means agreeing to the standard terms of assistance

The application form contains VLA’s standard terms of assistance. When the person signs the application form, then they are saying they agree to comply with these terms.

Acceptance or rejection of any further terms

If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance, then VLA may put extra conditions or limitations on the grant. The person applying may choose whether they accept or reject them.