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Means and Merit Test

Both the Means and Merit Tests must continue to be satisfied throughout the grant of legal assistance.

Accordingly, the Commission must be notified of any change in the financial circumstances of the aided person or a financially associated person, including if the aided person or a financially associated person

  1. commences employment;
  2. forms a financial association with any other person or entity (including by marriage, commencement of a de facto relationship, joining a partnership, becoming a beneficiary of a trust, etc);
  3. inherits, or becomes entitled to inherit, anything of value;
  4. starts a business or becomes self-employed;
  5. travels overseas;
  6. wins money or other valuable item in a lottery or competition;
  7. receives a valuable gift;
  8. raises a loan;
  9. becomes entitled to a settlement or award of compensation or damages;
  10. acquires or expects to acquire funds from the sale of a valuable item; or
  11. receives financial assistance from a person or entity.

If a change in circumstances occurs, the aided person must advise the Commission.  He or she may then be required to complete a Current Financial Statement and submit it, together with relevant documents, to the Commission.

On the submission of a Current Financial Statement eligibility for aid will be reviewed. This will result in–

  1. aid continuing unchanged;
  2. aid continuing subject to an increased contribution, or to costs recovery or other conditions; or
  3. cessation of aid.

Additionally, legal assistance funding will cease or be limited if a matter no longer has merit. Accordingly, the Commission must be provided with any information or documents relevant to merit such as expert reports, court orders and legal practitioner advice.

If legal assistance funding ceases, or the conditions of the grant of aid are varied as a result of a review of either means or merit, the assisted person may appeal against the decision in the same way as if the application for legal assistance had been refused initially.

A person who withholds relevant information, or makes a statement that is false or misleading will be guilty of an offence.