Test case criteria
The following criteria are guides for NCYLC undertaking casework. These are to be read in the context of the NCYLC strategic plan, and vision statement.
1. The matter should be in the public interest. For a matter to be in the public interest, the client must demonstrate that it:
- Directly affects the general community or significant community sector. A client individual or group should be representative of the sector, the broader community or a special interests which it seeks to promote in the public interest;
- Has the potential for significant law reform; or
- Raises an issue of significant ongoing concern to the general community.
An inability to access other services, or the lack of availability of other services will not necessarily cause a matter to become "in the public interest".
2. Priority will be given to ensuring that the legitimate interests of disadvantaged, vulnerable or marginalised sectors of the community are protected or pursued.
3. The matter should:
- involve issues of law, rights or regulation;
- be resolvable through the strategic use of litigation, ADR or other legal processes;
- have sufficient merit, that is, have sufficient prospects of achieving the desired outcome or goal as articulated by the applicant before the brief is accepted;
- have the prospect of bringing about significant positive change or the promotion of significant ongoing debate to the area of public interest in question within a reasonably short period of time; and
- be consistent with the overall goals and objectives of NCYLC.
4. The NCYLC will give priority to taking on public interest cases on issues it has identified as being of particular importance, namely:
- Employment related issues;
- Social Security issues;
- Education issues;
- Issues surrounding young people's access to public space;
- Issues relating to Duty of Care.
5. The project / matter should, where possible and appropriate, involve integrated case, policy and communication activities and strategic intervention in arenas available to NCYLC for achieving change in the courts, the regulatory system, the political system, the media. The appropriateness of adopting any such strategies will be determined by the Principal Solicitor in conjunction with the client on a case by case basis.
6. NCYLC must have or have access to available resources to undertake the matter. Consideration will be given to:
- the likely timeframe for and the extent of demands on NCYLC’s legal, policy and administrative resources;
- the availability of legal aid or consultancy grants;
- the risk or potential for costs orders or awards in litigation;
- the extent of potential disbursements and costs; and
- competing projects / matters.
7. Consideration will also be given to what, if any, cost implications there will be for the client.
8. To achieve effective and efficient conduct of the matter, consideration will be given to whether:
- NCYLC’s undertaking of the matter is a duplication of a similar matter being conducted by another, perhaps more appropriate, agency;
- NCYLC have sole responsibility for the matter, act on a co-counsel basis, resource others, utilise appropriate pro bono assistance from private law firms, or work in partnership with other Community Legal Centres or NGOs;
- NCYLC has or can acquire the necessary legal and/or policy skills, knowledge and expertise to undertake the matter; and
- external lawyers, experts, advocates or volunteers be engaged to assist.
9. Once every six months the Director and a representative of the Board will review the progress of all casework files to assess the appropriateness of the NCYLC continuing to actively participate in the matter. Each file will be considered and marked in one of the following ways:
- refer out (if, for instance the file no longer reflects the NCYLC charter or has grown to a point where the NCYLC can’t cope with it anymore due to resource limitations.)
- finalised (If for instance the matter no longer has "merit" as outlined above).
10. In addition, once every six months, the Director and a representative of the Board will review these guidelines in the context of the nature of the casework practice at that time.
11. In addition, once every six months, the Director and a representative of the Board will review all contracted and other projects and campaigns undertaken by the NCYLC to assess the appropriateness of the NCYLC continuing to actively participate in the matter. Each matter will be considered and marked in one of the following ways:
- refer out (if, for instance, the matter no longer reflects the NCYLC charter or has grown to a point where the NCYLC can’t cope with it anymore due to resource limitations);