Referral to firms and barristers for people who can't afford a lawyer, where the case justifies pro bono assistance and where a specialist service below cannot assist.
QPILCH operates the Public Interest Referral Service and manages the QLS and Bar Pro Bono Services.
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.
When can we help?
QPILCH can only refer an applicant for pro bono assistance if
- the matter has reasonable prospects of success and justifies use of our limited pro bono resources
- the matter requires legal assistance, for example it could not be resolved through negotiation or other practical options.
In certain circumstances, we will also consider whether the matter is 'in the public interest', which includes cases that affect a significant number of people, raise matters of broad public concern, or impact on particularly vulnerable or disadvantaged people.
How can I apply?
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for assistance, please contact our main office on (07) 3846 6317 to discuss your legal matter so that we can determine whether you should submit an application for pro bono legal assistance. If you are in Townsville, please contact our North Queensland office on (07) 4766 8714. We will use telephone interpreters when needed.
If you are eligible for assistance, you can 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.
- we cannot help clients who are entitled to legal aid; could afford private legal help; or, could obtain 'no win, no fee' (speculative) legal help
- our lawyers cannot give legal advice over the phone
QPILCH cannot assist in:
- criminal law; family law; native title; complex commercial disputes; complex building disputes; traffic matters; matters that are too urgent to properly assist; or matters that do not relate to Queensland or Federal law however, we will consider assisting applicants who live in Queensland even if their matter relates to interstate law.
- QPILCH is able to assist not-for-profit organisations where those organisations face a specific legal problem, for example, negotiating entry into a contract, and priority is given to organisations which have charitable purposes, address individual and community disadvantage and serve a wide group of people.
- QPILCH is unable to assist not-for-profit organisations to resolve internal disputes, for example disputes between members, directors and/or committee members. QPILCH is also unable to assist not-for-profit organisations which are in dispute with one or more other not-for-profit organisations. We are unable to assist in these cases as it is not our position to judge in which individual or organisation's case the public interest lies.
- 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 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).