What is LawHelp?
LawHelp is a service started by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and volunteer lawyers. It gives access to free legal help to:
- entities seeking to register or transfer their incorporation to the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act)
- not-for-profit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations already registered under the CATSI Act.
Who can apply for legal help through LawHelp?
Legal help through LawHelp is available to two categories of entities. It is not available to individuals.
- Entities seeking to register or transfer their incorporation to the CATSI Act
- Not-for-profit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations already registered under the CATSI Act.
What help is available through LawHelp?
Entities seeking to transfer their registration or incorporation to the CATSI Act can get help with the following requests:
- drafting of complex rule book provisions
- taxation consequences of transferring
- amendments to contracts
- change of registered legal name of assets, for example, land and vehicles
- interpreting the provisions of the state or territory legislation under which the entity is registered or incorporated
- drafting of meeting notices or advice to the members and employees of the entity about the transfer process.
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander corporations already registered under the CATSI Act can get help with the following requests:
- interpreting the law
- contract drafting, negotiation and management
- employment issues—such as employment contracts, workers’ compensation law, occupational health and safety obligations and how to apply employment legislation, for example, the Fair Work Act 2009
- basic tax issues—such as registering for an ABN and for GST, FBT and PAYG withholding, and assessing whether a corporation should apply for concessional income tax, FBT and/or GST treatment
- how to comply with laws applying to the corporation, identify and manage legal risks and develop appropriate disclaimers (including for websites, buildings and publications)
- consumer protection and trade practices issues
- legal issues relating to information and communication technology
- intellectual property arrangements—such as copyright and moral rights protection and infringement, registration and maintenance of trade marks, business names and domain names, and the commercialisation of a corporation’s intellectual property rights
- real property matters—such as buying, selling, constructing or leasing premises, licences, easements and other planning issues.
Corporations cannot get help with the following:
- native title—the Commonwealth provides help for people with native title claims through funded native title representative bodies (NTRBs) and native title service providers (NTSPs)
- legal action in any court or tribunal
- matters that could conflict with the Australian Government or any of its agencies’ interests—such as Commonwealth funding agreements, Indigenous land use agreements, township leases or other contractual arrangements, or any dispute that involves the Australian Government or any of its agencies.
Sometimes a LawHelp lawyer will not be able to give advice because of a conflict or other issues. This will depend on the individual application.
In exceptional circumstances, LawHelp’s assessment panel can still approve an application for legal help if it is not within the guidelines. All decisions by the assessment panel are final.
Who provides the legal help?
The following lawyers and law firms contribute their time and expertise free of charge:
- Australian Government Solicitor (AGS)
- Bradley Allen Love Lawyers
- Castledine Gregory Law & Mediation
- Clayton Utz
- DLA Piper Australia
- Herbert Smith Freehills
- HWL Ebsworth Lawyers
- Jackson McDonald
- Minter Ellison Lawyers
The Registrar welcomes lawyers and law firms who wish to participate in LawHelp and contribute their time and expertise for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. If you or your firm would like more information about becoming involved with LawHelp, please contact the LawHelp secretariat on freecall 1800 622 431 (not free from mobiles) or email LawHelp@oric.gov.au.
How to apply for LawHelp
The assessment panel
Other legal services
There are other organisations that could help entities with a legal problem. The National Pro Bono Resource Centre lists all Australian state and territory organisations that provide pro bono help on their website at National Pro Bono Resource Centre.
Who can I contact if I have any questions?
The Registrar acknowledges the Australian Government Solicitor for assistance in establishing LawHelp and as the founding legal services provider under this service.