Eligibility

Prospective clients must meet the following criteria:

 

Conflict test

All prospective clients must disclose the name of the other party to their dispute, to be checked against the Service’s records.

Where a conflict exists no advice may be given.  In such situations, the prospective client will be referred to another organisation, or where appropriate, provided with the telephone number of the Legal Services Commission Legal Help Line (1300 366 424).

Where a potential conflict exists in relation to a criminal offence, advice and representation may only be given in situations where the accused is pleading guilty. If the accused intends to plead not guilty and the victim of the alleged offence is a former or current client of the Service, the accused must be referred to another organisation.

 

Means test

To qualify for ongoing assistance a prospective client must be unable to afford private representation. Consideration is paid to a prospective client’s total assets, including real property.

The Riverland Community Legal Service recognises that there will be situations where a person may be employed or otherwise earning an income and yet be unable to properly afford private representation. In these situations the Service has a discretion to provide ongoing assistance after considering the prospective client’s:

  • Total income / assets
  • Age
  • Literacy level
  • Language difficulties
  • Youth
  • Disability
  • Geographical isolation

Consideration is also paid to the power imbalance that may exist between the parties if ongoing assistance is not provided.

Any person able to present a Centrelink Health Care Card or Pension Card will automatically satisfy the means test.

 

Merits test

For a prospective client to qualify for ongoing assistance, the Service must be satisfied that there is legal merit to the dispute. This does not mean that the client’s success must be assured (or even likely), but merely that there be an arguable case to present.

 

Geographic requirements

The Service may only assist clients who currently reside within the Riverland region, and will only provide representation in the Berri and Waikerie Magistrates Court in criminal matters. Solicitors employed by the Service may from time-to-time act as agents for clients of other community legal centres where representation in the Riverland is required.

The Riverland Community Legal Service has a discretion to cease ongoing assistance to any clients whose circumstances have materially changed, causing them to no longer qualify for the organisation’s services.

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