Forum test

Forum test

If the person who is applying lives in one State or Territory but their legal action is to be taken in another State or Territory of Australia, then Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) will apply the ‘forum test’.

Under the forum test, the grant of legal assistance is the sole responsibility of the legal aid commission in the State or Territory in which the action is to be taken.

Example

A person living in Victoria seeks a grant of legal assistance to either:

  • commence proceedings in the Family Court at Newcastle
  • respond to proceedings already issued out of Newcastle.

In this instance, the person needs to make an application for a grant of legal assistance to the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales, because Newcastle is the forum in which the case is being held.

  • Assignments Civil Law
  • Assignments Criminal Law;
  • Assignments Family Law;

See Contact us for phone and email details for each unit.

Which legal aid commission decides whether to make a grant of legal assistance?

Under the forum test, the decision to make a grant of legal assistance is the sole responsibility of the legal aid commission in the State or Territory in which the proceedings are listed to be heard. That State or Territory is referred to here as the ‘granting State or Territory’.

In this context, ‘forum’ means the State or Territory in which the proceedings are listed to be heard. It does not mean the State or Territory of the managing registry.

For example, the Melbourne registry of the Family Court manages the listing of matters for the Albury (New South Wales) sittings of the Family Court. However, the relevant forum is New South Wales, not Victoria, because the matters are listed for hearing in New South Wales.

What if the forum changes to another State or Territory?

If the forum changes to another State or Territory (the ‘new forum State or Territory’), then the State or Territory in which the person lives becomes relevant, as follows:

  • If the assisted person lived in the granting State or Territory in the past, and still lives there, then the granting State or Territory continues to assist the matter. The basis of the ongoing grant of legal assistance is the continuing residential link.
  • If the assisted person has never lived in the granting State or Territory, or stops living there, then the granting State or Territory will stop providing a grant of legal assistance. The person must then apply for a grant of legal assistance to the legal aid commission in the new forum State or Territory. The basis for this rule is that there is no longer a forum link nor a residential link with the granting State or Territory.