The means test is based on national economic and social indicators of income and assets. Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) reviews the figures in January and July each year, therefore the figures used in the means test may change every six months.
VLA assesses both the income and the value of the assets of a person applying for a grant of legal assistance (and those of any financially associated person). VLA then estimates the costs of the legal services the person requires.
Depending on the person’s (and any financially associated person’s) income, value of their assets, allowable deductions and the estimated legal costs, VLA will then decide (using Table 1, Table 2 and Table 3):
VLA uses the means test to:
VLA may make an initial grant of legal assistance (and any further assistance or additional assistance) to a person only if VLA considers that the person is unable to afford the full costs themselves.
There are some people that VLA may make a grant of legal assistance to without requiring them to satisfy the means test. See: People the means test does not apply to.
If VLA does make a grant of legal assistance to a person, the means test is also used to:
See: Contributions for more information.
If a grant of legal assistance is made without applying the means test, VLA will not require the person to make any financial contribution to their legal costs. See: People the means test does not apply to.
When assessing whether a person qualifies for a grant of legal assistance under the means test, VLA considers:
The person applying for a grant of legal assistance must qualify under both the income test and the assets test in order to satisfy VLA’s means test.
If a person qualifies under both the income and assets tests, and the total contribution amount exceeds the estimated cost of legal services, VLA may not make a grant of legal assistance.
VLA’s Legal Practice decides:
The lawyer that the person applies for a grant of legal assistance through never makes a decision about whether that person qualifies for a grant of legal assistance under the means test.
VLA may grant assistance if the applicant's contribution exceeds estimated legal costs but there is insufficient time for an applicant to raise the funds (including borrowing the money) necessary to pay for a private lawyer.
VLA may grant assistance subject to later payment of a contribution.