Case Work Services

Due to the Centre’s limited resources and the high demand for its services, we provide legal representation only in certain circumstances. These tend to be matters which involve family violence, promote systemic reform and/or have important legal issues involved.

The following case studies show the types of advice and assistance we provide:

A helping hand for our elderly clients

Shoalcoast was approached when an elderly couple received a demand from a relative asserting they had an equitable interest in our clients’ property. Our clients were very distressed in the belief that they may lose part ownership of their family home of more than fifty (50) years. They could not understand why the other party would have such a claim and were extremely distressed at the prospect of such a situation.  We arranged a face to face interview to peruse the demand letter, our clients’ title, and other documents in addition to receiving more detailed instructions. We were then able to relieve our clients’ distress assuring them that the other party had no claim to an interest to their property. We corresponded with the other party on the basis of the circumstances in accordance with our instructions and advising we would defend any such action, asserting the matter to be frivolous and vexatious and seeking indemnity costs. This assistance has deterred the other party from pursuing the matter. Arguably more importantly it has relieved our clients of significant stress and uncertainty in their twilight years. A matter such as this demonstrates the broad benefits achieved with access to justice provided by our advice clinics that extend to general and psychological wellbeing in cases where substantive legal advice and assistance alleviates stress that would be ongoing in the absence of our advice and assistance.

A successful pro bono partnership assists a young client

A client approached Shoalcoast for telephone legal advice regarding a Local Council fine relating to a dog incident that was being pursued by the State Debt Recovery Office.  The advice was to enable them to self-represent in the Local Court to seek to have the severity of the fine reviewed. Our phone advice solicitor is also a private lawyer and she was present at the Local Court as a duty lawyer when the matter was heard.  Whilst not a legal aid matter the lawyer was able to see that our client was extremely nervous and would not be able to present her case well in her emotional state at that time.  So she offered pro bono assistance to the Shoalcoast client to present the matter to the Magistrate under her instructions.  The Magistrate accepted the plea and the matter was dismissed with no further penalty.

Empowering the Client

A client who had been placed under NSW Guardianship and Financial management Orders approached Shoalcoast for assistance in having the orders revoked. The client had previously found it extremely difficult to convey her message to the members of the Tribunal because of disability issues.  Shoalcoast undertook some extensive preparation for the Review of the Guardianship Order and provided the client with a submission and a strategy in respect of the issues. With one of the legal practitioners attending as a MacKenzies Friend ( assisting but not advocating ) our client was able to present her case effectively and was congratulated by the members of the Tribunal as to her presentation. Despite opposition from other members of her family the Tribunal removed the Guardianship Order. A very satisfying result for our client.  Our client has now given instructions to make application to remove the Financial Management Order.

Helping vulnerable people with consumer issues

We assisted an elderly client in the South East who had engaged a tradesman to install a sky dome and new chimney. In short, the workmanship was very poor and resulted in major damage to carpet, walls and roof. The tradesman agreed to repair the sky dome and chimney but refused to make an insurance claim for the damage. We can only assume that this was because he was avoiding his tax liabilities as he forced our client to pay cash and waited for her to go to the bank and withdraw cash on several occasions. NSW Fair Trading was involved and agreed that the other party was liable. He still refused to make a claim on his insurance. We were met with numerous excuses, but finally made contact with his insurers. As part of the settlement the insurers tried to deduct money the other party claimed that our client owed (for repairing the defective workmanship). We flatly refused and our client was eventually paid out in full. The other party then threatened our client with legal action and his solicitors sent a letter of demand (again for the cost of repairing his defective workmanship). After some lengthy negotiations the other party was able to see that he didn’t have any basis for his claim and the matter was finalised.