8 – Public interest and strategic litigation
Legal assistance may be granted to a person for a legal proceeding that:
- is not otherwise covered by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) guidelines; and
- carries significant public benefit by seeking to:
- clarify or test the scope of existing legal rights and duties; or
- challenge the accepted interpretation of legal rights and duties; or
- establish new legal rights and duties in the common law or under statute; or
- improve administrative decision making, and the efficiency and fairness of the justice system.
In deciding whether to grant legal assistance VLA must have regard to:
- the priority client groups in VLA's current Strategic plan; and
- the service priorities in VLA's current Strategic plan; and
- VLA's current strategic advocacy priorities; and
- whether the case is a good vehicle for dealing with the relevant issue of law; and
- the likely cost of the proceedings; and
- the merit of the legal argument proposed to be made including whether it is likely to succeed in the particular proceedings, expose an inequity in the law or form part of a larger strategic advocacy plan.
A financial contribution or an equitable charge may not be required. If VLA makes a grant of legal assistance to a person for a public interest case or test case, then VLA may decide to waive the contribution and any requirement for an equitable charge, except where:
- the contribution exceeds the estimated cost of the case but there is insufficient time for the assisted person to raise the funds; or
- the assisted person acquires money or property as a result of the legally aided proceedings.
The means test will still apply.
Applications under this guideline can only be submitted via the standard grants assessment process.
Lawyers with any queries about an application under this guideline should contact VLA’s Legal and Policy Unit.