Legal Aid SA amended its means test on 1 April, enabling more people to qualify for legal assistance. Its means test is determined by an applicant's income and the assets they own. The amendments have substantially changed, accounting for inflation and the rising cost of living, notes GroundUp.

Now, an applicant's qualifying monthly earnings, after tax, must not exceed R7 400, a 35% increase from the previous limit. For a member of a household, the household's monthly income, after tax, must not exceed R8 000, a 34% increase.

If the applicant does not own immovable property, the value of their movable assets must not exceed R128 000, a 28% increase. If the applicant is a member of a household and owns immovable property, the value of their immovable and movable assets must not exceed R640 000, a 23% increase.

In the 2017/18 financial year, Legal Aid SA provided representation and advice to about 730 000 people, according to its national legal manager Dick Khubana. In that year, the organisation took on a total of 426 617 new legal matters and finalised a total of 420 061.

'While we cannot quantify the exact figures of clients we are now anticipating, Legal Aid SA is well prepared for the increase in applications. We have implemented efficiency measures to ensure that matters are categorised and scheduled in line with the processes required,' said Legal Aid spokesperson Victor Mfanafuthi Shabangu.

Legal Aid, funded by government, last amended its means test in 2012.

Full GroundUp report