QPILCH operates the Public Interest Referral Service and manages the QLS and Bar Pro Bono Services. QPILCH also operates a tailored Magistrates Court Service for people involved in proceedings in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
- Who can we help
- How to apply
- Criteria for pro bono referral
- Free or Low Cost
- Magistrates Court Service
Who can we help
QPILCH can assist individuals and not-for-profit community groups. We do not generally assist businesses or corporations, however, in limited circumstances, we may assist small organisations where the individuals involved in the organisations meet our eligibility criteria. We do not have a strict means test but we can only assist people who cannot afford a lawyer or obtain legal aid and we give priority to those experiencing the greatest hardship.
How to apply
To apply for assistance, please fill out the application form (on the right of this page) and send it to QPILCH by post, email or fax. Alternatively, you can complete the application form online here.
QPILCH's contact details are at the bottom of this page.
Criteria for pro bono referral
QPILCH can only refer an applicant for pro bono assistance if:
- the matter has reasonable prospects of success;
- the matter requires legal assistance, and for example could not be resolved through negotiation or other practical options; and
- the matter justifies the use of pro bono assistance, meaning that the likelihood of success and risks of taking on the case are supported by the important social justice issues of the case.
Please note, QPILCH cannot help clients who:
- are entitled to legal aid;
- could afford private legal help; or
- could obtain 'no win, no fee' (speculative) legal help.
QPILCH cannot assist in:
- criminal law;
- family law;
- native title;
- complex commercial disputes;
- complex building disputes;
- traffic matters;
- domestic violence matters;
- matters that are too urgent to properly assist; or
- matters that do not relate to Queensland or Federal law.
- Receipt of your application will be acknowledged.
- Once you apply, QPILCH will then assess the matter based on the information you provide.
- If your matter is eligible for referral, we will email our member firms or barristers seeking assistance.
- Members are not obliged to accept a referral, so we cannot guarantee that help will be obtained in all matters that we try to refer.
- If a member offers to assist, you become a client of the firm, and the normal solicitor/client relationship in pro bono matters is established. You and the firm will sign a pro bono client agreement which will set out the scope of the pro bono work and cost obligations (if any).
- We send a letter to the firm that accepts the referral with the documents you have provided to us and we send to you a letter advising the name of the solicitor in the firm to contact.
- If your matter is not eligible for referral, or if we are unable to find someone to accept the matter, QPILCH will write to you explaining why your matter has not been referred and will suggest who else you could approach for assistance (such as another community legal centre) or any practical options available.
Free or Low Cost
In most cases, law firms and barristers are willing to provide assistance for free on matters within our criteria. However, some matters may involve a number of applicants or groups in matters that are expensive to run. In such cases, members may agree to assist on a low cost basis, asking applicants to fundraise in order to make a contribution to the running of the case.
Even where law firms agree to act on a pro bono basis (for free) you may have to make a contribution towards the disbursements needed to run your case, for example, the costs of obtaining medical reports, copying documents or paying filing fees. However, QPILCH has a small disbursement fund which may be able to contribute towards small costs.
It is also very important to realise that if your case involves litigation and you lose the case, the court or tribunal may order that you pay all the costs (legal fees and disbursements) of the other side (the winning party).
Magistrates Court Service
If you are involved in Magistrates Court proceedings, we have a tailored service that may be able to assist you.
The Magistrates Court Service will assist parties who:
- are involved in civil proceedings commenced in the Magistrates Court (Brisbane Central Registry);
- cannot afford representation, cannot obtain legal aid and are experiencing hardship where the claim exceeds $20,000* (a means test applies);
- priority will be given to applicants when the other party is represented.
*Generally, the Magistrates Court Service is unable to assist where a matter involves less than $20,000 unless in QPILCH's view the circumstances warrant pro bono assistance because of the hardship it will cause.
The Magistrates Court Service can provide the following assistance:
- If you are eligible for assistance, your matter will be referred to a barrister who will assess your case.
- If the barrister considers that your matter has reasonable prospects for success, the barrister will advice QPILCH, which will then attempt to arrange representation (law firm and barrister) for you.
- In some limited instances, barristers can take a "direct access brief", which means they can act as your legal representative without an instructing solicitor.
- As all assistance provided by member law firms and barristers is voluntary, even if we believe that your case has good prospects, we will not necessarily be able to find a barrister or solicitor to assist. Lawyers who participate in this scheme are under no obligation to accept a referral. Participants will only accept a referral if they have the expertise in your matter and the capacity to do it.
- If your matter is accepted, you will become a client of the law firm or barrister (if it is a direct access brief).
- In some cases, QPILCH itself may agree to represent you. However, in such a case, we will only do so if you agree to undertake necessary work yourself such as filing and serving court documents. This is also the case if a barrister accepts a direct access brief.
- If we cannot arrange a referral for you, we may ask if you are prepared to self-represent, in which case, we may be able to provide assistance for you in each step of the proceedings.