4 June 2021

Free legal help for farmers and small businesses after fires

| Albert McKnight
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Far South Coast and Monaro Law Society president Melinda Twyford said the Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme must be applied for by the end of June. Photo: Supplied.

Free legal help is available for farmers and small business owners affected by the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires in South East NSW.

Those on the Far South Coast and in the Snowy Mountains who have not resolved legal matters arising from the fires can talk to their local solicitor about accessing free advice through the Commonwealth-funded Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme.

Under the scheme, primary producers and small business owners who are not eligible for free legal aid can ask their private solicitor to apply for funding of $2000 to help resolve a legal matter arising from the bushfires and up to $5000 for related expenses.

An eligible business or primary producer with more than one bushfire-related legal matter may receive more than one approval for legal services and related expenses.

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Far South Coast and Monaro Law Society president Melinda Twyford said legal issues arising from the bushfires can include insurance disputes, commercial leases, contract disputes, banking, planning and employment issues.

Ms Twyford said those who are eligible must have their solicitor apply for the grants by 30 June.

“If there are farmers and small business owners that are yet to resolve legal issues arising from the bushfires, they should talk to their solicitor about applying for this funding as soon as possible,” she said.

“This process doesn’t involve a lot of red tape and solicitors don’t need to jump through hoops to apply for these grants.

“Solicitors just need to register once via Legal Aid’s Grants Online Portal (if they are not already registered) and then they can apply for the grants.”

Law Society of NSW president Juliana Warner said she was incredibly proud of the legal profession’s efforts to help individuals, families and communities both during the bushfire crisis and on the road to recovery.

“Solicitors are very much part of the fabric of the community that they serve and natural disasters like bushfires, floods and drought impact everyone in the community in many ways,” she said.

The Local Government Areas covered by the Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme include Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Snowy Monaro and Snowy Valleys.

For more information on the scheme click here.

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