This part deals with:
- Deciding to apply for a legal aid certificate
- Applying for a legal aid certificate
- The statement of facts
- Legal aid for appeals
- Amending the legal aid certificate
The grant of legal advice extends up to the time when proceedings need to be started or defended. Proceedings can be started by issuing an originating summons, civil bill, notice of application or other initiating document. Proceedings are usually defended by entering an appearance and delivering a defence to proceedings which the other party has issued. Before a law centre can represent a litigant in civil proceedings, a member of staff1 in that law centre must apply for legal aid on the applicant’s behalf. The solicitor will make the application to a decision maker through EOS and the decision maker will grant or refuse the application. Where an application is refused, it is possible to seek a review or appeal of that decision.
The Act provides for “certifying committees” to consider applications for legal aid, however all the functions of the certifying committees have been delegated to the Board’s staff and they are no longer constituted. For all practical purposes the decision maker for most family law matters in the District Court (applications for guardianship, access, maintenance, custody, and domestic violence remedies) and appeals of the same matters is the law centre managing solicitor. For most other matters, it is Legal Services.
This Part explains in detail the process of applying for legal aid, the criteria which apply, and the process by which decisions are made, reviewed, and appealed.
1 Usually though not always a solicitor. A non-solicitor member of staff can make the application in certain circumstances, for example. an application for a private practitioner legal aid certificate (see the next page). In this Part the term “solicitor” is used unless dealing specifically with circumstances where a non-solicitor staff member can make the application.