If a grant of legal assistance is made

If a grant of legal assistance is made

If Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) offers a grant of legal assistance, then the assisted person may choose to:

  • accept the grant of legal assistance on the conditions and terms offered
  • request VLA to internally reconsider any of the conditions and limitations attached to the offer before they accept or refuse it
  • refuse the grant of legal assistance.

If the assisted person accepts the offer, both they and their lawyer must comply with all of VLA’s requirements in relation to the grant of legal assistance.

If the person does not accept the grant of legal assistance, they must notify VLA.

The grant letter

If VLA provides a grant of legal assistance, then VLA’s Legal Practice will send a letter to both the assisted person and the lawyer appointed.

The grant letter sets out:

  • the offer of a grant of legal assistance
  • any conditions, or limitations, on the extent or the nature of the grant of legal assistance
  • the name of the lawyer or law firm to whom VLA will assign the matter
  • the date on which the grant of legal assistance will begin if the person accepts the offer
  • the assisted person’s right to request VLA to reconsider its decision internally, if the assisted person is unhappy with any conditions or limits of the grant of legal assistance. For example, if VLA requests an equitable charge over the house but it is owned by the spouse who refuses to sign the charge or VLA refuses the briefing of senior counsel in a case but the assisted person’s lawyer believes that the case requires a senior counsel.

Reconsideration of conditions and limitations

If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance on conditions or with limitations which are not satisfactory to the person seeking the grant, then, usually, the person may request VLA to internally reconsider its decision.

If the result of the internal reconsideration is still not satisfactory, then the person may usually request an independent review of the decision. See Reconsideration and review of decisions.

When does a grant of legal assistance begin?

If the assisted person accepts the grant of legal assistance then, usually, it will begin on the day the person signed their application form. However, if there has been a delay of more than 14 days in sending the application form to VLA, the grant of legal assistance will start on the day VLA received the application form.

The date on which the grant of legal assistance begins is stated in the grant letter as ‘the date assistance commences’.

Will VLA provide a grant of legal assistance retrospectively?

VLA a will not usually make a retrospective grant of legal assistance for any matter where legal services have been carried out before an application for a grant of assistance is lodged. See also: Urgent applications.

VLA may vary its decision to provide a grant of legal assistance

VLA has the right under the Legal Aid Act 1978 to vary its decision to make a grant of legal assistance to a person. At any time, VLA may:

  • end the grant of legal assistance
  • change the nature or extent of the grant of legal assistance (including changing the lawyer to whom VLA has assigned the matter)
    and
  • put conditions, or vary the existing conditions, on the grant.