Go to content

Audit information

Lawyers appointed to Legal Aid NSW panels may be audited by Legal Aid NSW under Section 52B(1) of the Legal Aid Commission Act, 1979 (NSW) (the Act). Any one or more of the following may be audited:

  • claims for payment
  • compliance with practice standards
  • compliance with the terms and conditions of a service provision agreement
  • compliance with Legal Aid NSW guidelines, policies and delegations
  • substantial or unresolved complaints concerning service delivery

Audits are conducted by staff in the Professional Practices.  

Panel lawyer audit strategy 

The Legal Aid NSW audit strategy for panel lawyers has been reviewed. A new audit strategy is now in place affective from 1 July 2014.

Audit types

Spot Checks

These audits validate specific requirements applicable to claims or means test. Panel lawyers are asked to provide supporting documentation to validate a requirement for current or finalised matters. The majority of audits undertaken by Professional Practices are spot check audits.

File Reviews

These audits are more comprehensive and look at an entire matter. Panel lawyers are asked to produce complete files in legally aided matters. Audits include all claims and issues and will be based on the file, any other information that the private lawyer supplies and any other information that is available to Professional Practices as a result of investigations, e.g. court listing information.

Audit targets

A number of areas may be targeted for audit. Such areas include but are not limited to:

Claims

All claims may be audited. However from time to time, audits may focus on the following types of claims:

  • claims submitted immediately following the issuing of a grant before the work has been performed
  • claims for the full amount granted, particularly for variable unit claims
  • claims for work done that does not appear to have been done
  • disbursements
  • claims for a higher than average amount per grant
  • increases in the total amount claimed by a firm in a given period

Complaints

  • legally aided matters that relate to complaints made against a lawyer
  • lawyers found to be non-compliant in previous audits
  • substantial complaints concerning service delivery

Means information

Other

  • random selection including by location, jurisdiction, claim type or work item type
  • private lawyers total legal aid earnings 

Managing non-compliance 

In the event that an audit identifies a breach of the practice standards, service agreement or Legal Aid NSW policies and guidelines, a range of sanctions may be considered, depending on the severity of the non-compliance. Sanctions may include:

  • Warning letters
  • Further audits
  • Refund of claims
  • Added level of checking of claims by the Grants Division
  • Referral to the Monitoring Committee which can result in removal or suspension from the panel
  • Removal from the panel under s52B(11) of the Act for failure to comply with the request for audit
  • Ceasing the assignment of legal aid work
  • Referral to the Legal Services Commissioner, NSW Bar Association or Law Society of NSW  

Ongoing audit activity  

Professional Practices will continue to provide regular updates in relation to ongoing audit activity in the monthly newsletter, Legal Aid News.

Interim spot check audit reports

Interim reports on the main spot check audit findings for the following spot check audits are available for the information of panel lawyers:

More information

For further information in relation to audit contact the Senior Audit and Review Officer by e-mail at audits@legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Audit Resources