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Family matters - legal practitioner fees

Fees for Commonwealth law matters for approvals made on or after 24 May 2010

1. Counsel Fees
2. Solicitor Fees
3. Travel entitlements

Fee Scales

1. Counsel Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 24 May 2010

Final Hearings

First day all inclusive fee includes preparation, conferences and hearing

$1,040

Subsequent day all fee inclusive

$832

Appeals before the Family Court

All inclusive fee includes preparation, conferences and hearing

$1,875

Miscellaneous

Chamber work

$130/hour

Other appearance work (where prior written approval has been obtained)

$130/hour

Guidelines

a) Lump sum fees are calculated on the number of hearings listed comprising a "first day" and a "subsequent day" fee component.

b) Where a hearing concludes on the first day then only the "first day" component of the lump sum will be paid.

c) Where the hearing concludes early but on a subsequent day, the fee will be calculated on a "first day" and then "subsequent day" basis paid up to and including the date of conclusion.

d) Aid will not be granted to brief Counsel in interim hearings.

e) Aid will not be granted to brief Counsel in a local court except in particularly complex or exceptional cases.

f) Aid will not be granted to brief Counsel by a child's representative unless the matter raises complex issues of fact or law or there are other exceptional circumstances.

g) Travel expenses will only be paid upon prior approval by Legal Aid NSW.

Travel expenses will only be paid where the round trip from the barristers chambers to Court exceeds 70km.

Travel expenses will not be paid in respect to travel in the Sydney Metropolitan Region. The Sydney Metropolitan Region is defined as that area bounded by Hornsby to the north, Penrith to the west and Campbelltown to the south.

Where approved travel expenses will be paid at the rate of $0.35 per kilometre, or where appropriate, a return economy airfare.

Accommodation expenses will only be paid upon prior approval by Legal Aid NSW.

Where approved, accommodation expenses (including sustenance) will be paid as incurred, but to a maximum of the NSW Public Service Travel Allowance.

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Fee Scales

2. Solicitor Fees

  • Primary Dispute Resolution 
  • Family Court-Case Management System 
  • Federal Magistrates Service 
  • Local Court (Family Matters)

Lump Sum Fees - Family Law Act matters - for approvals made on or after 24 May 2010

Fees are calculated on a lump sum basis according to the guidelines set out below.

Guidelines

(a) The lump sum fee is calculated having regard to an hourly rate of $130 net.

(b) If the hearing exceeds the original estimate for unforeseen reasons, no additional payment will be allowed unless a decision not to make an additional payment would be clearly unjust, and a judge or magistrate certifies that up to one day of extra hearing time is required for the effective disposal of the case.

(c) Where proceedings conclude earlier than the original estimate the lump sum amount will be reduced on a pro rata basis and only the actual time spent will be allowed at the hourly rate.

(d) Agency Work

In ordinary circumstances, a practitioner is not entitled to claim an additional grant of aid to instruct an agent. Where an agent is retained because the assigned practitioner is unavailable, the agent must be a panel practitioner and must be paid out of the assigned practitioner’s lump sum fee for any court attendance up to the hearing stage.
Mentions: An additional allowance to instruct an agent at a mention will not be approved unless the practitioner can show that the matter is complex enough to justify an instructing allowance and:

  • Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that engaging an agent is an economical use of legal aid funds; or
  • exceptional circumstances exist.

Hearings: The use of an agent at a hearing will only be approved in exceptional circumstances. If a practitioner cannot attend a hearing it will generally be considered more appropriate for the matter to be reassigned to an available panel practitioner.

(e) Other Items

Items not specifically included in these guidelines are subject to separate negotiations.

(f) Application of the stage of matter model

  • If there is a change of solicitor, the model applies as if there were no change of solicitor and payments will be made on a pro-rata basis for work completed for each stage. 
  • If a legal aid client loses contact with the solicitor, payment for the work completed will be on a pro rata basis to be negotiated with Legal Aid NSW.
  • If contact is re-established, funding already provided will be taken into account with the guidelines when considering any further grants of aid.
  • The hearing length of a trial will be estimated taking into account the estimate given by the court. 
  • If a matter is listed for hearing (final or otherwise) and not reached by the court on the date set, funding outside the stage of matter grant must be negotiated with Legal Aid NSW.
  • Court attendance includes waiting time and appearance in court but excludes travel time.

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Primary Dispute Resolution (PDR)

 

Fees

Stage 1(a)

PDR early intervention

 

 

Taking instructions and preparing for PDR process

$260

 

Representing client at PDR process

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 4 hours

 

Preparing consent orders, if appropriate

$130

Stage 1(b)

PDR litigation intervention

 

 

Representing client at PDR process

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 4 hours

 

Preparing consent orders, if appropriate

$130

 

 

 

Family Court - Case Management System

 

Fees

Stage 2(a)(p)

Initiating court proceedings up to conclusion of directions hearing/s including case conference

 

 

Taking instructions; communications; preparing documents; attending to filing and service; court attendance; attending case conference; consent orders, if appropriate

$1,170

Stage 2(b)(p)

Initiating court proceedings - up to conclusion of directions hearing/s, including application for interim relief filed at the same time and case conference

 

 

Taking instructions for initiating court proceedings and for affidavits; communications; preparing court documents; attending to filing and obtaining short service; court attendance; attending case conference; consent orders if appropriate

$1,170



 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 5 hours

Stage 2(c)(p)

Interim or summary hearing - as a discrete event

 

 

Taking instructions for application and affidavit; preparing court documents; obtaining short service

$780

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 5 hours

Stage 2(d)(p)

Up to conclusion of conciliation conference (if any)

 

 

File management; taking instructions; court attendance; obtaining consent orders, if appropriate

$390

Stage 2(e)(p)

Application for recovery
order where there is an existing court order

 

 

Taking instructions; preparing court documents

$390

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 3 hours

Stage 3(a)(p)

Preparation for trial up to and including pre-trial conference

 

 

Taking instructions; interviewing witnesses; preparing documents including affidavits; preparing your client for Family Report process; issuing subpoenae; case management guideline trial document; completing and filling compliance certificate; attending pre-trial conference; consent orders, if appropriate

A lump sum fee based on estimated preparation time calculated with reference to the hourly rate.

Stage 3(b)(p)

Not ready list

 

 

Taking instructions; preparing court documents; court attendance

$130

Stage 3(c)(p)

After pre-trial conference to eve of trial

 

 

Preparing client for family report process; read family report; advise client; case outline document; brief to counsel; conference with counsel; consent orders if appropriate

 

$780

Stage 4(p)

Trial costs

 

 

Attendance each day of hearing
Advocacy allowance if any

A lump sum fee based on estimated hearing time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day.

 

Taking judgement and explaining orders

$130

Stage 5 (p)

Appeals to the Full Court

 

 

All work up to and including the hearing

$1,300

Stage 5 (p)

Appeals to a single judge of the Family Court

 

 

All work up to and including the hearing

$1,560

 

 

 

Child Representation in Family Court

 

 

 

Primary Dispute Resolution

 

 

Attendance at legal aid family law conference

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 4 hours

 

Preparing consent orders, if appropriate

$130

 

To conclusion of pre-trial conference

 

 

Where an order is made at directions hearing for work up to and including attendance at pre-trial conference

$1,560

 

From pre-trial conference to eve of hearing

 

 

Where an order is made at directions hearing for work subsequent to completion of pre-trial conference, an allowance to cover all attendances, preparation etc. to eve of hearing

$1,040

 

Where an order is made other than at directions hearing

A lump sum allowance negotiated in reference to timing of orders and necessary work undertaken to cover all attendances, preparation etc prior to hearing

 

 

 

 

 

Attendance on hearing

A lump sum fee based on estimated hourly time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

 

Chapter 15 Experts

 

 

Where it is necessary to apply to the court for a Chapter 15 Experts report, an allowance to cover all work including court attendance

$260

 

Interim or summary hearing as a discrete event

 

 

Preparation

$780

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on estimated hourly time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

Dissolution of Marriage

 

 

 

With no children under 18 years

$390

 

With children under 18 years

$560

Change of Venue Application

 

 

 

Principal Solicitor

$260

Enforcement Proceedings

 

 

 

Enforcement under section 112AD

 

 

Taking instructions; preparing court documents

$520

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on estimated hourly time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

 

 

 

 

Children's Cases Program Pilot

Intake stage: Acting for parties

 

 

Taking instructions; advice and assistance in the preparation of consent and questionnaire documents; all preparation for and initial appearance in the Childrens Case Program; all negotiation and drafting of any relevant consent orders, if appropriate. 

 $780

 

Intake Stage: Acting for children

 

 

All investigations and enquiries including the issuing of subpoenas; all child interviews; all preparation for and initial appearance in the Children's Court Program Pilot.

 $780

Miscellaneous

 

 

 

Consent orders

 

 

Lump sum allowance (excluding those orders arising from participation in conferencing)

$390

 

Parenting Plan

 

 

Parenting Plan

$390

 

Solicitor appearing as an advocate

 

 

Where a solicitor appears as an advocate on hearing, as agreed beforehand with Legal Aid NSW

 

 

 

 

Federal Magistrates Service

 

Fees

Stage 2(ab)

Initiating court proceedings

 

 

Taking instructions for application and affidavit; preparing court documents; obtaining short service, if required

$780

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 5 hours

Stage 2(d)

Up to conclusion of conciliation conference (if any)

 

 

File management; taking instructions; court attendance; obtaining consent orders, if appropriate

 

 

 

$390

Stage 2(e)

Case review (if any)

 

 

Preparing court documents (if any); taking instructions; court attendance; obtaining consent orders, if appropriate

$390

Stage 2(g)

Application for recovery order, where there is an existing order

 

 

Taking instructions; preparing court documents

$390

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 3 hours

Stage 2(h)

Any subsequence appearance

 

 

Taking instructions for application and affidavit; preparing court documents; obtaining short service, if required

$780

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 5 hours

Stage 4

Preparation for trial

 

 

Taking instructions; interviewing witnesses; preparing documents; preparing client for family report process; issuing subpoenas; preparing case management guideline trial documents; preparing and delivering brief to counsel; reading family report; conference with counsel; attending list conference

A lump sum fee based on estimated preparation time calculated with reference to the hourly rate

Stage 5

Trial costs

 

 

Attendance each day of hearing

A lump sum fee based on estimated hearing time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

 

Taking judgment and explaining orders

 

 

 

 

 

$130

Child Representation in Federal Magistrates Service

 

 

 

Primary Dispute Resolution

 

 

Attendance at legal aid family law conference

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 4 hours

 

Preparing consent orders, if appropriate

$130

 

From directions hearing to eve of hearing

 

 

Where an order is made at directions hearing for work up to the eve of the hearing and includes an allowance to cover all attendances, preparation etc.
Pro rata adjustment will be required for early settlement

2,600 or a proportion of that sum reflecting the hourly rate

 

Where an order is made other than at directions hearing

A lump sum allowance negotiated in reference to timing of orders and necessary work undertaken to cover all attendances, preparation etc prior to hearing

 

Attendance on hearing

A lump sum fee based on estimated hourly time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

 

Chapter 15 Experts

 

 

Where it is necessary to apply to the court for a Chapter 15 experts report, an allowance to cover all work including court attendance

$260

 

Interim or summary hearing as a discrete event

 

 

Preparation

$780

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on estimated hourly time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

 

Appeal to the Family Court

 

 

All work up to and including the hearing

 

 

 

$1,560

Change of Venue Application

 

 

 

Principal Solicitor

$260

Miscellaneous

 

 

 

Consent orders

 

 

Lump sum allowance (excluding those orders arising from participation in conferencing)

$390

 

Parenting Plan

 

 

Parenting Plan

$390

 

Solicitor appearing as an advocate

 

 

Where a solicitor appears as an advocate on hearing, as agreed beforehand with Legal Aid NSW

 

 

 

 

Local Court (Family Matters)

 

Fees

Stage 2(a)

Initiating court proceedings up to conclusion of directions hearing/s

 

 

Taking instructions; communications; preparing documents; attending to filing and service; court attendance; consent orders, if appropriate

$650

Stage 2(b)

Initiating court proceedings - up to conclusion of directions hearing/s, including application for interim relief filed at the same time

 

 

 

Taking instructions for initiating court proceedings and for affidavits; preparing court documents; obtaining short service

 

 

 

 

$650

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 5 hours

Stage 2(c)

Interim or summary hearing - as a discrete event

 

 

Taking instructions for initiating court proceedings and for affidavits; preparing court documents; obtaining short service

$650

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 5 hours

Stage 2(e)

Case review (if any)

 

 

Preparing court documents (if any); taking instructions; court attendance; obtaining consent orders, if appropriate

$390

Stage 2(g)

Application for recovery order, where there is an existing court order

 

 

Taking instructions; preparing court documents

$390

 

Court attendance

A lump sum fee based on the actual time spent calculated with reference to the hourly rate up to a maximum of 3 hours

Stage 4

Preparation for trial

 

 

Taking instructions; interviewing witnesses; preparing documents; preparing client for family report process, issuing subpoenae; preparing case management guideline trial documents; preparing and delivering brief to counsel; reading family report; conference with counsel; attending list conference

A lump sum fee based on estimated preparation time calculated with reference to the hourly rate

Stage 5

Trial costs

 

 

Attendance each day of hearing

A lump sum fee based on estimated hearing time calculated with reference to the hourly rate. Legal Aid NSW pays for actual time spent up to 5 hours per day

 

Taking judgment and explaining orders

 

 

$130

Transfer from Local Court to Family Court

 

 

 

Initiating court proceedings up to conclusion of directions hearing

 

 

Taking instructions; communications; preparing documents; attending to filing and service; court attendance; consent orders, if appropriate

$1,040

Change of Venue Application

 

 

 

Principal Solicitor

$260

Child Support Declaration

 

 

 

Child support declaration under section 106 or section 107 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989

 

 

For all work up to and including attendance at the directions hearing following the release of the paternity test results

$520

Miscellaneous

 

 

 

Consent orders

 

 

Lump sum allowance (excluding those orders arising from participation in conferencing)

$390

 

Parenting Plan

 

 

Parenting Plan

$390

 

Solicitor appearing as an advocate

 

 

Where a solicitor appears as an advocate on hearing, as agreed beforehand with Legal Aid NSW

 

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3. Travel Entitlements

Travel Entitlements in Commonwealth Case and Duty Matters

Travel Allowance

A travel allowance is paid if the total return distance travelled from the legal practitioner's office to court exceeds 70 kilometres, and the practitioner is travelling to a court located outside the Sydney metropolitan area.

The Sydney metropolitan area includes all courts within the area bounded by: 

  • Hornsby;
  • Penrith;
  • Campbelltown; and
  • Sutherland.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the travel allowance will not be approved where the matter could be assigned to:

  • a practitioner located within 35kms of the court; or
  • a practitioner who is significantly closer to the court; or
  • a practitioner who has other matters at the court on the same day. 

Prior approval to claim the travel allowance must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW.

If travel allowance is being claimed, approval should be sought in the original application.

Travel allowance cannot be claimed more than once per day to the same court, regardless of the number of legal aid applicants being represented at that court.

Where approved, travel expenses will be paid at the correct rate per kilometre, or where appropriate, a return economy airfare (whichever is the cheaper).

Allowance for Commonwealth Defended Local Court and Children’s Court criminal law case matters

A lump sum of $100 for travel time is paid in addition to the travel allowance of $0.50 per kilometre. The lump sum payment may only be claimed once per day on which travel allowance is payable.

Allowance for Commonwealth Local Court and Children’s Court criminal law duty matters

A lump sum of $100 for travel time is paid in addition to the travel allowance of $0.60 per kilometre. The lump sum payment may only be claimed once per day on which travel allowance is payable.

Allowance for Commonwealth case matters in

  • criminal law - Local Court (committal matters) District Court and Supreme Court,
  • family law and
  • civil law matters

A travel allowance is paid at $0.35 per kilometre.

Accommodation

Where approved, accommodation expenses (including sustenance) will be paid as incurred to the maximum rates determined by the Department of Premier and Cabinet of the NSW government. Click here to view the current rates.

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is travel allowance available for appeals?

Yes, provided the criteria for the travel allowance is met and prior approval is obtained.

If travel allowance is approved for a criminal trial, is an allowance paid for accommodation and meals?

Yes. Actual expenses for meals and accommodation may be payable for each 24 hour period at rates determined by the Public Employment Office of the NSW government. If an accommodation and sustenance allowance is approved, the applicable rate will be provided to you at the time of the grant. All receipts must be provided and actual expenses only may be recovered.  Claims for amounts above the rate will not be paid. 

My client has asked me to appear for him at a court that is more than 35kms from my office.  My client insists that I appear and is unwilling to accept another solicitor.  Is the travel allowance available?

Generally a travel allowance will not be approved where a practitioner located within 35 km of the court is available to appear for the client.  In exceptional circumstances travel may be approved, eg. where the client is a child, or has a disability, and Legal Aid NSW agrees that continuity of representation is in the interests of the client.

Is travel allowance payable for views?

Yes, however, prior approval for the view must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW and will be limited to views conducted outside the Sydney metropolitan area.  Where the distance travelled exceeds a round trip of 70km, the travel allowance for a view may be approved or an appropriate fee negotiated.

How do I calculate the driving/road distance between destinations?

The website http://www.travelmate.com.au may assist in calculating distance between destinations.

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