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Policy Bulletin 3 / 17 (Contributions Guideline – automatic waiver of the initial contribution in Local Court summary crime matters)

17 May 2017

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved changes to the Contributions Guideline which means the initial contribution will be automatically waived in Local Court summary crime matters where the applicant for legal aid is in custody and has an assessed initial contribution of $75.

Background

Under sections 36 and 46 of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW) (the Act), Legal Aid NSW has the power to require a legally assisted person to contribute towards the costs of a legal service provided under a grant of legal aid.

Legal Aid NSW has the power under section 10(2) of the Act to decide the type of circumstances in which contributions should be made and how they should be calculated.

Under the previous Contributions Policy, the $75 initial contribution for Local Court criminal matters could only be waived or reduced in exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances only exists where Legal Aid NSW is satisfied the applicant has no funds or no access to funds: this could include where an applicant was in long term custody or had no prospects of obtaining bail.

What is the change?

The new policy seeks to streamline the contributions process and improve the processing time of Local Court summary crime matters by introducing an automatic waiver of the initial $75 contribution for applicants who are in custody.

Where do I find the changes?

See Policy Online - Guidelines – Contributions at 5.2.1(a) – 5.2.1(b)

Commencement date

The changes will apply to applications for legal aid determined on or after 17 May 2017.

Contact: please contact Samantha Lee Legal Policy Branch for any questions about this policy change at sam.lee@legalaid.nsw.gov.au