Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House Incorporated (QPILCH)

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QPILCH is an independent, not-for-profit legal service incorporated in 2001. QPILCH is committed to improving access to justice for people who are ineligible for legal aid or cannot afford private representation, and for community groups with public interest objectives.

QPILCH is the leading facilitator of pro bono legal services in Queensland.

QPILCH is a partnership of law firms, barristers, the Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services Incorporated, the Queensland Law Society Incorporated, the Bar Association of Queensland, Legal Aid Queensland, university law schools and accountancy firms.

QPILCH is a public benevolent institution, endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient. All QPILCH accounts are independently audited.

What does QPILCH do?

QPILCH refers individual matters to law firms and barristers, coordinates direct legal services for particular disadvantaged client groups and undertakes law reform, policy work and legal education. QPILCH is committed to working in a flexible and innovative manner to respond to unmet legal need.

Referral of individuals in need to law firms and barristers

Who can we assist?

We accept applications from individuals who are unable, or to the satisfaction of QPILCH, ineligible, to obtain legal aid and have insufficient means to afford the required legal services. We also assist community groups with public interest objectives.

What legal areas can we help with?

QPILCH can only assist in civil law matters. QPILCH is unable to assist with family law and criminal law requests.

What are our referral criteria?

QPILCH public interest scheme

  1. The matter has legal merit, meaning that the likelihood of success and risks of taking on the case are supported by the important social justice issues of the case;
  2. The matter must be in the public interest. The matter is a legal matter of public interest if it:
    • affects a significant number of people;
    • raises matters of broad public concern;
    • requires legal intervention to avoid a significant and avoidable injustice; or
    • particularly impacts on disadvantaged or marginalised groups;
  3. The issue requires a legal remedy or other legal assistance; and
  4. The issue requires addressing pro bono publico ('for the common good').

Queensland Law Society and Bar Pro Bono Schemes

  1. The matter has strong prospects of success.
  1. The applicant is, to the satisfaction of QPILCH, ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford the legal services required to resolve the matter.

Who will help you with your case?

Applications that satisfy these criteria are referred for legal assistance to law firms or barristers who are willing to take on the matter for free or at a reduced cost. We cannot guarantee that a matter will be accepted.

What assistance can be provided?

Assistance provided by law firms and barristers includes:

  • advice and opinions;
  • drafting documents;
  • mediation and negotiation;
  • litigation; and
  • legal projects, including research.

If you would like an application form, you can download one from our website at www.qpilch.org.au or contact us using the details at the bottom of this factsheet.

Advice and assistance clinics

Legal staff and volunteers provide direct legal services to people who are ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford private representation through the following:

  • Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic;
  • Refugee Civil Law Clinic;
  • Mental Health Law Practice; and
  • Self Representation Service.

Each service has its own eligibility criteria and may require applicants to complete an application form. Please see the QPILCH website for further information about these services.

Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic

The Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic provides free legal advice and assistance to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness at a number of emergency accommodation centres and welfare agencies across Brisbane and in Toowoomba and Townsville. The Clinic may be able to help with:

  • Debt and loans;
  • Fines;
  • Guardianship;
  • Housing and tenancy issues;
  • Social security; and
  • Police and public order offences.

Refugee Civil Law Clinic

The Refugee Civil Law Clinic provides free legal advice and assistance to refugees, humanitarian entrants and asylum seekers who have been in Australia for 0-5 years and who are experiencing financial hardship and cannot access mainstream legal services. The Clinic does not provide any advice in relation to immigration law. The Clinic can help with:

  • Debt and loans;
  • Fines;
  • Consumer issues (sale of goods, and entering into contracts for goods);
  • Housing and tenancy issues;
  • Social security;
  • Discrimination; and
  • Employment.

Mental Health Law Practice

The Mental Health Law Practice provides free legal services to people with mental illness or their families.

The Clinic provides assistance to people who are experiencing problems in civil areas of law because of their mental illness. The Clinic can also provide advocacy assistance in matters arising from the application of the Mental Health Act 2000 (Qld).

Self Representation Service

The Self Representation Service provides free legal advice and assistance to self-represented parties throughout the course of their proceedings in a number of jurisdictions, as detailed below. The Service helps people who are involved in, or who are considering commencing legal proceedings, and who are unable to afford private legal assistance or obtain legal aid. The Service offers appointments (in person or by telephone) of up to one hour with solicitors who provide advice and assistance with the legal tasks necessary to progress litigation. The Service also provides advice about other options to resolve a dispute.

Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

In the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia the Service provides assistance in the following areas:

  • Anti-discrimination;
  • Bankruptcy;
  • Employment;
  • Competition and consumer;
  • Information privacy;
  • Judicial review;
  • Appeals from federal tribunal (eg AAT); and
  • Appeals to the Federal Court.

District and Supreme Courts and Queensland Court of Appeal

In the Queensland Courts the Service provides assistance with civil cases (not family or criminal).

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

In QCAT the Service provides in the following areas:

  • Children and young people;
  • Anti-discrimination;
  • Guardianship and Administration;
  • Administrative review;
  • Disciplinary;
  • Manufactured homes;
  • Residential tenancies and rooming accommodation (excluding bond disputes);
  • Retirement villages; and
  • Appeals.

Contact us

The information in this resource is for general information purposes only. If you would like help with a legal problem, you may be eligible for assistance from a LawRight service or clinic.

For more information about the help available, and the process for applying for help, please contact LawRight by:

Email: admin@lawright.org.au
Telephone: 07 3846 6317
Fax: 07 3846 6311
Postal address: LawRight, PO Box 3631, South Brisbane, Qld 4101
Website: LawRight

LawRight does not provide legal advice over the phone.