Farmers and Businesses Urged to Apply for Free Bushfire Legal Assistance Coffs Coast Highlight Section Nambucca Valley Nambucca Valley News by News Of The Area - Modern Media - June 11, 2021 The program has been well received nationwide. THE LAW Society of New South Wales is encouraging local farmers and small business owners in the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and Clarence Valley Local Government Areas (LGAs), who still haven’t resolved legal matters arising from the 2019-20 bushfires, to talk to their local solicitor about accessing free legal advice. Under the Commonwealth funded Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme primary producers and small business owners who are ineligible for free legal aid, can ask their private solicitor to apply for funding of two thousand dollars to help resolve legal matters arising from the bushfires and up to five thousand dollars for related expenses. Co-President of the Coffs Harbour & Clarence River Law Society, Cassandra Banks said legal issues arising from the bushfires can include insurance disputes, commercial leases, contract disputes, banking, planning and employment issues. However, Ms Banks said, farmers and small business owners in the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and Clarence Valley LGAs need to be aware that, if they are eligible under the scheme, their solicitor must apply for the grants by 30 June 2021. “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. “After that you can’t apply so it’s important to get in now and get some advice and if there is an issue you can get funding for you can get your application in now,” she said. “There is the possibility of extensions and a solicitor can make a case to the grants department who will assess on a case by case basis to consider additional funding. “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.” Under the funding eligible businesses or primary producers with more than one bushfire related legal matter can receive more than one approval for legal services and related expenses. The funding is available for items such as insurance disputes, commercial leases, contract disputes, planning and building law, local government disputes, entitlements to government grants and schemes, credit and debt, banking, fencing issues, property law and employment law issues for employers. The funding is in addition to legal assistance already available for individuals after a disaster. By Sandra MOON Bushfire affected farmers and business owners are urged to get their free legal advice before the end of June.