To be eligible for pro bono assistance an applicant is first required to satisfy both a means test and a merits test.
For individuals, the means test threshold may be satisfied in the case of a person:
- whose gross income and assets are not greater than the threshold set by the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania to be eligible for a grant of legal aid, (in the case of organisations the Referral Service will consider the individual financial situation of applicants), or
- who, despite not satisfying the gross income and asset test above, is a person the Referral Service nevertheless considers should be assisted because the applicant’s financial or other circumstances prevent them being able to obtain the requisite legal assistance, or the provision of pro bono assistance would be in the public interest.
The Referral Service will exercise its discretion in applying the means test threshold. Among other matters, the Referral Service may take account of an applicant’s necessary and significant expenditure in determining an applicant’s eligibility for assistance. Examples of such expenditure may include large child support payments, rental payments or child care fees.
General Considerations. In all applications, the following questions will be considered:
- whether a lack of legal representation would result in a serious injustice or an otherwise significant detrimental outcome; or
- whether the legal issues raised affect a significant number of people or raise matters of broad public concern; and
- whether the applicant has been refused a grant of legal aid or the matter is not one for which legal aid is available.
Where the matter involves litigation, the following questions will be considered:
- whether the proposed litigation has reasonable prospects of success; and
- whether an ordinarily prudent self-funding litigant would risk their own resources, including money, in these circumstances.
Where the matter does not involve litigation, the following questions will be considered:
- the matter must have reasonable prospects of being achieved or completed (i.e. the possible benefit to the applicant of obtaining pro bono assistance should be weighed against the likely costs of taking on the matter); and
- the matter warrants the allocation of scarce pro bono resources.