Legal Aid Tribunal

You can ask the Legal Aid Tribunal to review decisions the Legal Services Commissioner made about legal aid.

Before you apply to the tribunal, you must first ask the Commissioner to reconsider the original decision.

Ask the Commissioner to review a legal aid decision

You can only ask for a review when the Commissioner’s decision is clearly unfair (or ‘manifestly unreasonable’), wrong in law, or both. You can’t apply for a review if you just disagree with the decision.

Types of decisions that can be reviewed

You can ask for a review of decisions about:

  • applications for legal aid, including when they are turned down
  • the maximum level of legal aid you get
  • the amount of legal aid you need to repay
  • the conditions on a grant
  • stopping, or changing a grant
  • a charge, or security,  placed on property owned by someone granted legal aid 
  • enforcement of any condition on a grant
  • payment of costs awarded to an opponent in a civil case.

Find out more about reviewing legal aid decisions [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Reasons for asking for a review

You can ask for a review if you think the Commissioner:

  • made an obviously incorrect decision (‘manifestly unreasonable’) 
  • made a decision that is ‘wrong in law’ or
  • did both of these things.

You can’t apply for a review if you just disagree with the decision.

What does ‘manifestly unreasonable’ mean?

A decision is manifestly unreasonable if it’s shown ‘clearly and unmistakably’ that the Agency’s decision ‘went beyond what was reasonable or was irrational or logically flawed’ (Legal Services Agency v Fainu [2002] 17 PRNZ 433).

What does ‘wrong in law’ mean?

A decision is wrong in law if it derives from an inaccurate application or interpretation of a statute, or is wrong in principle, or if a decision-maker has failed to take into account some relevant matter or takes into account some irrelevant matter, or if the decision depends on findings that are unsupported by the evidence (Legal Services Agency v Fainu [2002] 17 PRNZ 433).

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