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Duty Services in Grafton Local Court pilot


Legal Aid NSW seeks to appoint a Law Practice(s) or consortium for a twelve (12) month pilot of an alternative contract arrangement for private practitioners to undertake legal aid criminal law work, specifically to deliver criminal law duty solicitor services in Grafton Local Court.

The Pilot aims to deliver a consistent, high quality criminal law duty service to Grafton Local Court to better meet the needs of socially and economically disadvantaged clients.

Legal Aid NSW will retain the law practice(s) for the life of the pilot and will not operate the Duty Solicitor Scheme at Grafton Local Court for 12 months.  All existing DSS rostered solicitors are invited to submit a response to the EOI.

Further information can be found in the Expression of Interest, Service Agreement and Service Agreement Annexures. Applications for the expression of interest have now closed.

For any enquiries, please contact Cherie Pittman, Director Legal Services on Cherie.Pittman@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or 9134 9383.


Please be advised that where the EOI and Service Agreement refer to the “General Crime Panel” this should read the “Summary Criminal Law Panel”

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is the minimum and maximum number of defended hearings permitted?

A: This number is not prescribed. It will depend on the capacity of the firm and the detail from the law practice in the expression of interest.

Q: What is the administration fee?

A: This fee is to be nominated by the applicant law practice in the expression of interest and is to reflect the amount of time required to undertake the administration of duty files.

Q: Are fresh custodies included in the duty work?

A: Yes, the successful Law Practice or Consortium will be required to attend to all fresh custodies at Grafton Local Court.

Q: Presently there are 2 Duty Solicitors rostered for each Monday List day (one for Custodies and another for those Defendants not in Custody who apply for Legal Aid), I suggest it will be very difficult for one Solicitor to attend to all Duty Matters in 5 hrs.

A: The expectation would be for two solicitors to attend on Duty List days.

Q: The Reference Schedule refers to the Solicitor arriving at Court by 8.30am (SARS para 8.1 General). Many Defendants don’t arrive till just before 9.30am and others well after that time. Also, Police documents are not provided before the Court day and are provided by the Prosecutor who arrives only just before Court commences at 9.30am.

A: Solicitors should arrive at 8.30 am prior to attending court.  For best practice, solicitors should seek to make arrangements with Police to obtain Police documents in advance. This process has been initiated in Coffs Harbour.

Q: Legal Aid foresees the Duty Solicitor arranging an Agent to assist if necessary, assuming such Agent is available at short notice. In the event such Agent is not available, is there provision for the Appointed Solicitor to bill Legal Aid for more than 5 hrs Court appearance: See Service Agreement Reference Schedule (SARS) para 10 Funds?

A:Yes, that may be possible. Please detail in your expression of interest how best you would see that service working and how you would balance both the client’s and the Court’s best interests.

Q: In relation to the requirement (SARS 6.2b Services re Hearings) not to list matters for Hearing without a Grant of Aid, the Chief Magistrates Practice Note states that Domestic Violence matters are to be given a Hearing date at the first Mention. Does this mean that the Duty Solicitor will need to appear as amicus in DV Not Guilty Pleas rather than go on the records as the Solicitor in the matter?

A: Yes, solicitors would appear as amicus (under the duty service) just for setting the hearing date until the grant is lodged. There should be no commitment to appear at the hearing until the person is eligible for legal aid.

Q: SARS 8.2 General refers to the Appointed Solicitor attending a person in Custody on a non-list day. Does that mean the Solicitor needs to be generally available for Custodies on non-list days and if so, would these appearances be billed in the usual (present) way? Or, is it the intention of Legal Aid that a Custody Solicitor Roster would exist on non-list days?

A: Non-list days will be billed at an hourly rate.  It is not anticipated that a Custody Solicitor Roster will operate. The expectation is that the solicitor would be generally available on non-list days, however Legal Aid NSW understands that this may be practically difficult. Please detail in your expression of interest how you think this service would work given all the variables.

Q: SARS 8.4 General: Does this prohibit the Appointed Solicitor appearing in EAGP matters on a List day? Many Duty matters become EAGP matters.

A: EAGP matters are to be referred to Legal Aid NSW for allocation. Being the Appointed solicitor does not prohibit EAGP matters being allocated but the duty service must be serviced efficiently without clients waiting all day for a service. That may mean that two solicitors (or more) are on duty on that day.

Q: On occasions a 2nd Court sits in Grafton for Hearings on a Monday. This would clash with Duty Solicitor commitments. I presume if this arises, an Agent could be arranged to appear in Duty work?

A: Yes. The Appointed Solicitor should arrange the agent. The agent must be on the relevant Legal Aid NSW panel.