Scheme outline

About Law Aid

Funding civil disbursements

Since 1996

Law Aid is a non-profit charitable trust which was established in 1996 by the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar Counsel with the backing of the Victorian Department of Justice.

The purpose of the Trust is to provide assistance in civil litigation within Victoria to those who would otherwise be unable to afford its cost and whose lawyers are prepared to act on a “no win, no fee” basis.

The three guiding principles for the establishment of Law Aid were and remain:



Its establishment and operation be the responsibility of the private legal profession represented by the Law Institute of Victoria and Victorian Bar Counsel.



The involvement of the State Government be limited to providing capital funding and ongoing monitoring to ensure Law Aid’s accountability.



Law Aid be financially viable and self-sustaining.

Supporting all forms of civil litigation

Types of Civil Litigation we can Fund

Personal injury claims

Claims against institutions involving discrimination or oppressive behaviour

Professional negligence claims

Wills and estates claims

Assistance is not available for criminal law or family law matters.

Legal professionals making a difference


By encouraging legal practitioners to accept cases of clients who cannot afford to meet their legal costs, Law Aid enhances the ability of all Victorians to access the justice system.

The scheme recognises that, while many solicitors are willing to assist clients who cannot afford to undertake civil litigation, not all law firms are able to carry the cost of associated disbursements.

Law Aid provides a practical solution by paying disbursements including fees for expert reports, travel expenses, filing fees, jury fees and witness expenses.

Law Aid also supports matters of public interest requiring funding of disbursements but resulting in no return to the Trust Fund except for the refund of disbursements if a costs order is made.

Recent cases supported by the scheme include:

Personal injury claims

Professional negligence claims

Common Law claims arising from serious injury certificates​

False imprisonment

Property damage claims

Wills and estate claims

VCAT appeals

Sexual harassment and sexual assault

Empowering all Victorians

Current Law Aid Trustees

James Mighell KC (Chair)

Michelle Britbart KC

Andrew Clements KC

Fiona Ryan SC

Anna Vadaketh

Kathryn Booth

Lachlan Singe

Steps to justice

How the scheme operates


Prior to the application, you (solicitor/barrister) must agree not to seek payment of fees until the successful conclusion of the case and to waive all professional costs incurred should the case not succeed.


Applications must be made on the Law Aid Application Form and can only be accepted from legal practitioners.


Both the solicitor and the applicant must sign the application form.


The usual non-refundable application fee of $150 has been waived in accordance with the trustees’ resolution to offer such a waiver until 31 December 2024, in recognition of the economic hardship that has been caused to many by Covid 19.


Granting of assistance is at the Trustees’ discretion.


Applications are regularly assessed by the Trustees to ensure that continuing funding remains appropriate.


Eligibility for funding is assessed on two bases: the applicant’s financial circumstances and a realistic appraisal of the likely success of the matter, noting that funding is often granted to enable investigations to take place.


If the matter is successful, the applicant must pay a percentage (5% in matters where the application was received after 31 Aug 2015) of any award or settlement plus any amount paid by Law Aid for disbursements on their behalf.


If the matter is not successful, no payment is required.