In some legal matters a lawyers may proceed with a hearing without prior confirmation of a grant of assistance from Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and then make an urgent application after the hearing.
VLA may provide an urgent grant of legal assistance in the following types of court proceedings:
- intervention order cases in the Magistrates’ Court
- Children’s Court cases
- summary Magistrates’ Court criminal cases and bail applications.
VLA does not require immediate proof of means
If a person is applying for an urgent grant of legal assistance, then VLA does not require immediate documentary proof of the person’s means. However, see below for the conditions which VLA will put on an urgent grant of legal assistance, including in relation to proof of means.
Conditions on all urgent grants
If VLA makes an urgent grant of legal assistance, then it will be on condition that:
- the person qualifies for assistance under the means test (if relevant) and/or the Commonwealth merits test (with an exception for one aspect of the test, which VLA alone can decide) the State reasonableness test or interests of justice test (whichever may be relevant)
- the person or the person’s lawyer sends VLA any necessary documentary proof of means either within the time VLA specifies or within 14 days.
If the person comes within one of the categories of people for whom VLA may waive some of its requirements for documentary proof of means, then the 14-day time limit still applies to documentary proof of means of any relevant financially associated person.
If the person applying or their lawyer does not comply with VLA’s conditions
If the person or their lawyer does not comply with all of the conditions which VLA imposes on the urgent grant of legal assistance, then, usually, VLA will not pay the person’s legal costs.
However, if VLA is satisfied that their non-compliance was due to exceptional circumstances, then VLA will pay the person’s legal costs under the grant.
Telephone grants for family law matters
VLA will only provide a telephone grant for a family law matter if a person wants to apply to a court for an interim order or for an injunction and:
- VLA decides that:
- a child’s safety or welfare is at risk
- the safety of the person applying for the grant is at risk
- there is an immediate risk that a child will be removed from Australia or to a remote geographic region within Australia
- one of the people in dispute or a child is seriously ill
- one of the people in dispute dies
- VLA decides there are other exceptional circumstances justifying an urgent grant of legal assistance.
Lawyers applying for an urgent grant of legal assistance over the telephone should contact the Assignments Unit.
See Contact us for phone and email details for each unit.
Extra conditions on telephone grants
If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance over the telephone, then it will be on the conditions noted above as well as on condition that:
- the person applying (or their lawyer) sends VLA a written application for assistance within, either:
- the time which VLA specifies
- 14 days of the urgent grant.
- the information in the written application is consistent with the information given by the person’s lawyer over the telephone.
Telephone grants not available for Section 29A Panel practitioners
Urgent grants assistance over the telephone for a family law matter are not available to lawyers who are members of VLA’s Section 29A Panel because those lawyers have the ability to recommend to VLA that the legal matter is one which falls within VLA’s guidelines for grants of legal assistance.