Frequently Asked Questions

Is it free?

Yes.

Do we provide Legal Aid?

  • No. People often refer to our service as “legal aid”, but we do not provide legal aid services.
  • Legal aid is government funding to pay for lawyers for people going to court who cannot afford a lawyer. It is available for people facing criminal charges, and those with a civil legal problem or family dispute that may go to court, as well as for the Waitangi Tribunal.
  • We, on the other hand, are a community law centre, an independent non-profit organisation. Although we receive much of our funding through government sources, we are not connected in any way to the public service.
  • Importantly, our services are free, whereas people generally have to repay some or all of their legal aid back to the government.
  • If you need a lawyer, and cannot afford one, you can come to us for initial free legal help first. We can then refer you to the right lawyer.

Can anyone get legal help at the community law centre?

 

In general yes, but there are some exceptions:

  • We do not provide legal advice on property or commercial issues.
  • We cannot give legal advice about Wills or Trusts.
  • We cannot witness Relationship Property agreements or Enduring Powers of Attorney, but we can give you initial legal information about them.
  • We do not give legal advice to landlords or employers.
  • We also aim to see people who have the least financial resources. This means we will ask you some questions about your financial means. We prioritise clients who really cannot afford to see a lawyer privately.

How do the legal advice sessions work?

  • The majority of our sessions are first-in, first served.
  • We do not make appointments, and clients often need to wait in the waiting room.
  • Clients see volunteer lawyers (with volunteer students who assist).
  • Clients receive initial legal advice about their options, and referrals.
  • In some limited circumstances, our staff lawyers make take clients on, providing ongoing legal help and representation.

Do we give phone or email advice?

No. As a general rule, Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley does not give telephone or email advice. We encourage you to come into one of our offices during our free legal advice hours. If you can’t, check to see whether you can make it to one of our “outreach” clinics.

If there are genuine reasons why you can’t come into our offices or outreach clinics (for example, if you are living with a physical disability), we will occasionally provide phone advice.

Conflicts of Interest

  • Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley must not act for more than one party in a dispute.
  • If we have already helped the other party to your dispute, we will not be able to see you at either our Wellington or Lower Hutt office.
  • We will help you contact Whitirea Community Law Centre in Porirua or another agency to support you to access legal advice in the event of a conflict of interest.

Confidentiality

Please check out our confidentiality policy here for our policy on Client Confidentiality.

Complaints

  • If you are unhappy about the service you receive at Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley, we encourage you to use our complaints procedure.
  • We welcome complaints as a tool to improve our services.