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Communtity Law Manual | Legal aid | Challenging a civil/family legal aid decision

Civil/family legal aid

Challenging a civil/family legal aid decision

Legal Services Act 2011, s 51

An aided person or an applicant for legal aid who is unhappy with a decision made by the Legal Services Commissioner can apply to the commissioner for a reconsideration of the decision. The application for reconsideration must be made within 20 working days of the unsuccessful applicant being informed of the decision (unless they apply for and are granted more time). The person the commissioner instructs to reconsider the decision will be different from the person who made the original decision.

Decisions which can be reconsidered can relate to:

  • an application for legal aid
  • any conditions imposed on the grant, such as a charge on property
  • any amount payable, whether as an interim repayment or a repayment
  • the maximum grant under a grant of a legal aid
  • the withdrawal of, or amendment to, a grant of legal aid
  • the enforcement of any condition
  • any changes to, or dealings with, a charge on a person’s property
  • an application for costs of a successful opponent of an aided person.

If the reconsideration doesn’t change the decision, the applicant can appeal to the Legal Aid Tribunal.

Note: Only an aided person or applicant for aid can apply for reconsideration or review. A legal services provider cannot.

Legal Services Act 2011, ss 52, 53, 55, 59

Anyone who is unhappy with the reconsideration of the Legal Services Commissioner can appeal to the Legal Aid Tribunal to have the reconsideration reviewed. The grounds for review are that the decision was:

  • manifestly (clearly) unreasonable, or
  • wrong in law.

The applicant has 20 working days to apply for a review, unless they apply for and are allowed more time.

The Legal Aid Tribunal will review the reconsideration of the commissioner on the papers, meaning that a hearing will not be held. However, the applicant can send the Tribunal a written statement, along with any other useful documents and information.

The applicant can appeal the Legal Aid Tribunal’s decision to the High Court on a question of law, in accordance with the High Court Rules.

Legal Services Act 2011, s 7

Appeals can be made on questions of law to the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Legal Services Act 2011, ss 59–61

Note: Legal aid is available for Legal Aid Tribunal reviews. The applicant must meet the usual criteria for civil/family legal aid and will be subject to the usual conditions that apply to civil/family legal aid grants.

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