This is a general page which explains the process for making an application for legal aid in New South Wales.
The Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales is a government organisation that provides legal assistance to those who are going to court but do not have the means to pay for a private lawyer.
The Commission has in-house legal aid lawyers and also, in limited cases, assigns matters to private law firms who it pays at a greatly reduced rate.
Those who wish to apply for legal aid are required to pass a means test – which assesses their ability to pay for legal services – as well as a merit test – which seeks to determine whether the particular case is worthy of legal aid funding.
Normally, only those who are on the lowest incomes and have cases which could lead to a prison sentence will be granted legal aid.
For more information about legal aid applications, read below or contact the Legal Aid Commission directly on 9219 5000.
Am I eligible for Legal Aid?
You may be eligible for legal aid if:
- You are getting a Government Allowance (e.g. New Start, Disability Support Pension, Single Parent Pension, Youth Allowance).
- You are in custody; or
- You are receiving a very low income.
How can I apply for Legal Aid?
You can make an application for legal aid with the Commission.
Their email address is www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au and their phone number is 9219 5000.
You will need to provide proof of income (e.g. a printout from Centrelink) and your three most recent bank statements.
What if my partner / family member / friend is in custody?
We can arrange a prison visit to advise your loved-one about their case, fight for them to be released from custody through making a bail application and push for the optimal outcome.
We offer fixed fees for all prison visits and bail applications.
Which cases qualify for Legal Aid?
Legal Aid can be granted in most criminal cases and more-serious traffic cases..
Examples of criminal cases that qualify include assaults, frauds, break & enter, robbery, drug, sexual assault, terrorism, murder cases etc.
Do very serious criminal cases qualify for Legal Aid?
Yes, legal aid is available for even the most serious criminal cases.
In fact, there may be a better chance of getting legal aid in these cases.
If Legal Aid is granted, will my case always be assigned to a private law firm?
Legal Aid’s policy is to take criminal cases in-house – which means give it to a lawyer employed by the Legal Aid Commission – unless a legal aid lawyer is not available or there are other circumstances which justify giving the case to a private law firm.
Will I have to pay anything at all?
You will normally have to pay a $75 contribution to the Legal Aid Commission.
That fee can be waived for persons in custody.
There are normally no other costs.
In fact, it is an offence for any lawyer to accept a grant of legal aid and to also receive private funding.