A free legal service pilot program for Canberrans involved in consumer or credit law disputes will be available for a further 12 months at the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Shane Rattenbury, has allocated $168,000 in funding to local community organisation CARE Incorporated to operate the Consumer Law Duty Service for 12 months.
This service runs out of the ACAT and provides assistance to unrepresented litigants who bring consumer law disputes to the ACAT.
“Consumers in the ACT are increasingly needing legal support for matters they take to the ACAT; in particular this duty lawyer service can assist people on low and moderate incomes seeking access to legal advice and assistance,” Minister Rattenbury said.
Care CEO Ms Carmel Franklin said the service improved access to justice for some of the most vulnerable Canberrans by placing independent consumer lawyers at the same location as ACAT.
“This new funding will enable our expert lawyers to continue to be present on site, to provide critical, free legal advice and represent clients before ACAT when necessary,” Ms Franklin said.
“I’d like to thank the ACT Government for this investment in an important service to help those experiencing hardship to resolve financial disputes in ways that are more efficient, equitable, and, ultimately, just.”
The funding comes from interest generated from the sale of uncollected goods under the Uncollected Goods Act 1996. It has been held in the Uncollected Goods Charitable and Social Welfare Fund, which is administered by GreaterGood.
The GreaterGood foundation was established by the ACT’s Public Trustee and Guardian to provide long-term financial support to charities and community initiatives in the capital region.