Flexible forum test guideline becomes permanent

Flexible forum test guideline becomes permanent

Monday, 2 August 2021

Together with Legal Aid New South Wales (LANSW), we have introduced a permanent flexible forum test guideline following a two year pilot and evaluation period.

The flexible forum test guideline arose from the Cross-border Justice Report which identified the need for Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and LANSW to work together more effectively to support the legal needs of people living in border communities. The key benefits of continuing the flexible forum test include continuity of service for clients and ease of access to a conveniently located court or practitioner.

The evaluation identified that clients who felt they had a choice of lawyer reported more positive experiences of working with their lawyer and client experiences of applying for legal assistance were typically positive with mention made of the assistance legal practitioners gave in completing paperwork. Practitioners were enthusiastic about supporting their clients by reducing as many barriers to legal assistance as possible.

The flexible forum test guideline is a client focused service delivery approach which will improve access to services for those clients living in border communities.

What is the forum test?

The forum test establishes which legal aid commission (LAC) is responsible for providing a grant of legal assistance to clients. The general rule is the location of where the matter is to be heard determines which LAC is responsible for the grant of aid.

What is the change?

Applicants who satisfy the flexible forum test may apply to VLA for a grant of assistance even if the matter is going to be heard in NSW, if their lawyer is on a relevant VLA panel.

Applicants must still meet relevant guideline, merit and means test requirements.

More information

Please contact grants@vla.vic.gov.au with any queries about the flexible forum test guideline.

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