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Commonwealth criminal matters - solicitors

Fees for Commonwealth law matters for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

  1. Local Court – Solicitor Fees
  2. Local Court Committals – Solicitor Fees
  3. District Court (Appeals from the Local Court) - Solicitor Fees
  4. District Court - Solicitor Fees
  5. Supreme Court - Solicitor Fees
  6. Court of Criminal Appeal - Solicitor Fees
  7. High Court - Solicitor Fees
  8. Additional Preparation
  9. Travel Entitlements

1. Local Court - Solicitor Fees


Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

• Local Court Criminal Law matters
• Children's Criminal Court and associated matters

Start up Grant - defended hearing

Appearance fee (excluding mentions)

Up to three hours on a defended hearing

$150 per hour

Preparation (inclusive of an initial conference with the client);

$230

Mentions (inclusive of waiting time)

Waiting time is payable except:

  • A solicitor has other private work to attend to whilst waiting for legal aid matters to be reached; or
  • In defended hearings.

In defended matters solicitors should obtain a marking from the court to reduce waiting time. If a marking is obtained the solicitor will be paid at the mention rate i.e. $75 per half hour at court to a maximum of one hour.

Up to 2.5 hours;

$75 per ½ hour $150 per hour

Visit to correctional centre

Children's court

$112.50

Local Court

$87.00

Interpreter fees if required

Where an interpreter is required you must ensure the court orders an interpreter for the hearing at the courts expense

Up to $215

General disbursements: You may incur disbursements for the following items up to $150;

  • Filing fee for subpoenas
  • Conduct money
  • agent fees
  • Legal notices
  • Medical reports
  • Psychologist/Psychiatrist reports
  • Witness expenses
  • Photocopying, fax and tele

phone calls (to a pre-approved maximum of $30.00) 
Receipts must be kept on file for audit purposes.

Up to $150

Travel entitlements

 

Fee rates for work items in the Local Court, Children's Court other than fees included in the Start Up Grant

Appearance at court (excluding mentions)

Prior approval

$150 per hour

Conference with client/witness

$95.00

Mentions

$75 per half hour

View

$150 per hour

Legal Practitioners, whether solicitor or counsel, will be paid at the above rates.

Recovery of costs in criminal matters - Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  1. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  2. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  3. The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.  

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2. Local Court Committals – Solicitor Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

Court Appearances

Hearings
Per hour at court to a maximum of 5 hours per day for a single accused

$150.00

Mentions
Per half hour at court to a maximum of 1 hour

$75.00

Section 91 Applications
Per hour at court to a maximum of 5 hours per day

$150.00

Waiting time is payable except if a solicitor has other private work to attend to whilst waiting for legal aid matters to be reached.

Reading / Preparation fee

Hearings
Prior approval must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW

By negotiation

Section 91 Applications
Prior approval must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW

By negotiation

Where reading/preparation are undertaken and paid for at Committal level, Legal Aid NSW may reduce any further fee payable in respect of those items that would otherwise be paid at trial.

Conferences

Conference
with client (to a maximum of 2)
with witness (where prior approval has been obtained)

$95.00

$95.00

Visit to  correctional centre adult

$87.00

Visit to correctional centre - juvenile

$112.50

Views

Per hour while at the site of the view. Prior approval for the view must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW.

$150.00

Disbursements

 Prior approval must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW for any expenditure on disbursements. Receipts must be retained on file for audit purposes

Travel

Travel Entitlements

 

Legal Practitioners, whether solicitor or counsel, will be paid at the above rates.

 

Complex matters

In Exceptional circumstances, matters which would normally be covered by the General Crime Panel may be assigned to practitioners appointed to the Serious Crime Panel.

Exceptional circumstances include where the matter is a complex criminal matter.

 

Briefing Counsel

In committal proceedings, it is a condition of the grant of legal aid that a practitioner must not brief counsel unless Legal Aid NSW has given express approval.

  1. A practitioner authorised by Legal Aid NSW to brief a barrister will brief:
    a. a Public Defender, unless a Public Defender is not available or it is not appropriate: see point 2; or
    b. a barrister having appropriate experience: see point 3.
  2. Legal Aid NSW may determine from time to time the circumstances in which it is not appropriate to brief a Public Defender: for example, at District Court Circuit Sittings not serviced by a Public Defender.
  3. For a complex criminal matter, a barrister having appropriate experience is a barrister who has been appointed to the Specialist Barrister Panel (Complex Criminal Law), unless there are exceptional circumstances as determined by the Director, Grants or delegate or by the Director, Crime or delegate.

Complex Criminal Matters
A complex criminal matter includes:

  • All Supreme Court trials and pleas;
  • Manslaughter trials and pleas;  
  • Matters where the trial is complex because of the nature of the charge or the defence. For example: sex slavery, fraud or money laundering charges where there are more than 30 counts and/or the total value is more than $500,000.00;
  • Trials identified by the trial judge as requiring significant case management pursuant to s.141 Criminal Procedure Act 1986;
  • Where the trial length is estimated at 20 days or more;
  • Where the brief of evidence is more than 5,000 pages;
  • All terrorism matters;
  • Sexual assault trials where there are multiple complainants and/or multiple defendants.

Counsel to appear at committal instead of practitioner
Legal Aid NSW may grant approval for a practitioner to engage counsel to appear at the committal hearing – subject to the briefing guidelines for complex criminal matter, on the basis that the practitioner will forego their fees and instead, counsel will be paid at solicitor rates.

Direct access briefs to counsel at committal
Legal Aid NSW may grant aid for committal proceedings on a direct access basis to counsel, if it appears likely that the proceedings can be resolved by way of a plea of guilty in the Local Court and an instructing solicitor will not be required. Aid will not be granted on a direct access basis to counsel in relation to complex criminal matter.

Legal Aid NSW may grant aid for committal proceedings on a direct access basis to counsel, if the matter is likely to be a plea of guilty or a trial where an instructing practitioner is unlikely to be required.

Counsel will be paid at solicitor rates.

Where a committal is assigned on a direct access basis to counsel, if an instructing solicitor is required in the District Court and the case has not been assigned because of conflict, the instructing solicitor will be an employee of Legal Aid NSW, if available.

 

Recovery of costs in criminal matters - Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  1. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  2. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  3. The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

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3. District Court (Appeals from the Local and Children's Court) - Solicitor Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 17 Sep 2012

Court Appearances

Attendance at court (excluding mentions)

Per hour at court

$150.00

Per half hour at court (part thereof)

$75.00

Mentions

Per half hour at court to a maximum of 1 hour

$75.00

Waiting time is not payable

Conferences

Conference with client

$115.00

Visit to correctional centre

$150.00

View

 Prior approval for the view must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW.

a

Additional Approvals
No other fees or allowances will be paid unless prior approval is obtained.

a

Travel entitlements

Legal Practitioners, whether solicitor or counsel, will be paid at the above rates.

Recovery of costs in criminal matters - Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  1. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  2. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  3. The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

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4. District Court - Solicitor Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

Trials

Initial Trial Preparation fee

$300.00

Mention/not reached: per hour in Court

$150.00

Attendance at court ordered case conference

$150 per hour up to 2 hours

Attendance on first day of trial

$750.00

thereafter per hour

$150.00

maximum per day

$750.00

Co-accused

Each co-accused represented per day

$210.00

Conferences

Per accused/witness

$136.00

Visit to correctional centre

$150.00

With accused where trial exceeds 1 week (up to 2 per week during trial)

$136.00

Sentence Matters 

Preparation fee

$300.00

Appearance in Court:

Per hour

$150.00

Per day maximum

$750.00

No-Bill Application/Notice of Motion/other Interlocutory Applications (where prior approval has been obtained): per hour

$150

View: per hour

$150

Clerks: The prior written consent of the client, counsel and Legal Aid NSW is required.

Clerk instructing Counsel will be paid up to 70% of Solicitor fee

Solicitors Conducting District Court Trial without Counsel

Prior approval from Legal Aid NSW is required

Solicitor Advocate fee

Additional reading/ preparation fee:
(only allowed in exceptional circumstances)

By negotiation

Click here for Travel Entitlements

 

Recovery of costs in criminal matters - Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  1. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  2. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  3. The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

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5. Supreme Court - Solicitor Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

Trials

Initial trial preparation fee

$300.00

Mention/not reached: per hour in Court

$150.00

No-Bill Application/Notice of Motion/other Interlocutory Applications (where prior approval has been obtained): per hour

$150.00

Attendance at court ordered case conference

$150.00 per hour up to 2 hours

Attendance on first day of trial

$750.00

thereafter per hour

$150.00

maximum per day

$750.00

Co-accused

Each co-accused represented per day

$210.00

Bail applications

Preparation fee

$300.00

Appearance in Court: per hour

$150.00

Conferences

Per accused/witness

$136.00

Visit to gaol/shelter per journey

$150.00

With accused where trial exceeds 1 week (up to 2 per week during trial)

$136.00

Sentence Matters

Preparation fee

$300.00

Appearance in Court:

Per hour

$150.00

Per day maximum

$750.00

View: per hour while at the site of the view. Prior approval for the view must be obtained from Legal Aid NSW.

$150.00

Clerks: The prior written consent of the client, counsel and Legal Aid NSW is required.

Clerk instructing Counsel will be paid up to 70% of Solicitor fee

Additional reading/ preparation fee:
(only allowed in exceptional circumstances)

By negotiation

Travel entitlements


Recovery of costs in criminal matters
- Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  1. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  2. An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  3. The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

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6. Court of Criminal Appeal - Solicitor Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

Briefing counsel to obtain his/her opinion on the prospects of success or to prepare submissions

Sentence

$750.00

Interlocutory

$450.00

All Grounds

$900.00

Other

$750.00

Crown appeal – brief counsel to prepare submissions

$750.00

Conference with the appellant

$136.00

Mention/not reached: per hour in Court

$150.00

Travel to Gaol / Shelter per journey

$150.00

Instructing Counsel in Court: first day

$750.00

· thereafter per hour

$150.00

· maximum per day

$750.00

Preparation / Reading Fee - By negotiation

Travel Entitlements

Recovery of costs in criminal matters - Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  • An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  • An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  • The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

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7. High Court - Solicitor Fees

Scale of fees for approvals made on or after 9 Dec 2013

Special leave application: Briefing counsel to obtain opinion on the prospect of success of the proposed appeal

$750.00

Preparation for the appeal to the High court

$1050.00

Conference with the appellant

$136.00

Travel to Gaol / Shelter per journey

$150.00

Mention/not reached: per hour in Court

$150.00

Instructing Counsel in Court: first day

$750.00

· thereafter per hour

$150.00

· maximum per day

$750.00

Preparation / Reading Fee - By negotiation, but only in exceptional circumstances

Travel Entitlements

Recovery of costs in criminal matters - Solicitors and Counsel in criminal matters will be paid at a rate of 175% of the legal aid fee rates when;

  • An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person under the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, or
  • An order for costs is made in favour of the legally aided accused person by the Supreme Court in prerogative writ matters or similar proceedings, or
  • The legally aided accused person is granted a certificate under Section 2 of the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

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8. Additional Preparation

Committal

Legal practitioner (including counsel on a direct access brief)

A legal practitioner (including counsel on a direct access brief) appearing for a legally aided client at committal may make an application for payment of fees for preparation (including reading, conferences, listening to tape recordings, inspection of exhibits, views) in addition to the brief fee paid in the standard committal grant. However, additional preparation will not usually be considered at committal unless there is something extraordinary about the brief. Approval for additional preparation and the fee payable is at the absolute discretion of the Director Criminal Law or the Director Grants or their nominee.

Following committal, a legal practitioner may seek additional preparation in relation to material not served prior to committal.

Approval is subject to the Additional Preparation Guidelines.

Counsel (where approval has been obtained for counsel to advise on the brief and/or approval has been given for counsel to be briefed at committal)

Where approval has been obtained for counsel to advise on the brief and/or appear for a legally aided client, counsel may make an application for payment of fees for preparation (including reading, conferences, listening to tape recordings, inspection of exhibits, views) in addition to the fee paid to advise on the brief. However, additional preparation will not usually be considered at committal unless there is something extraordinary about the brief. Approval for Additional Preparation and the fee payable is at the absolute discretion of the Director Criminal Law or the Director Grants or their nominee.

All fees paid at committal will be paid at the Legal Practitioner rate.

Where additional preparation is allowed, counsel will be required to keep a record of time spent on preparation and a synopsis of material read.

The fee for counsel to advise on the brief and/or any fee paid as preparation at committal will be deducted from the fee for preparation for trial.

Approval is subject to the Additional Preparation Guidelines.

Trial

Solicitor

Following committal, a legal practitioner may seek additional preparation in relation to material not served prior to committal.

Approval is subject to the Additional Preparation Guidelines.

Counsel

A fee for reading the brief will be paid to counsel once only. Counsel engaged at committal either on a direct access basis, or to advise on the brief and/or to appear at committal will not be eligible to claim the initial trial grant brief fee as this fee will have already been paid.

Preparation in addition to the fee at committal or the initial trial grant will generally not be considered before arraignment unless there is something extraordinary about the brief.

Approval is subject to the Additional Preparation Guidelines.

Guidelines for Additional Preparation

An application for payment of fees for additional preparation (including reading, conferences, listening to tape recordings, inspection of exhibits, views) are subject to the following guidelines:

  1. Before additional fees for preparation will be considered, Legal Aid NSW will require:
    (a) an estimate of the amount of time it will take to read and prepare the case;
    (b) details of the nature and extent of preparation, including the nature of documents to be perused;
    (c) where counsel is briefed, details about which preparation is to be undertaken by counsel and which preparation will be undertaken by the solicitor; and
    (d) an estimate of the court time if the matter goes to hearing/trial.
  2. If necessary, Legal Aid NSW will independently examine the documents and may require further and better particulars about the amount of preparation necessary.
  3. Requests for additional preparation must be made within sufficient time for the request to be considered by Legal Aid NSW.
  4. A practitioner must comply with the file management procedures outlined in the Practice Standards.
  5. A practitioner is presumed to know the law. A fee will not be paid for researching the law.
  6. Additional fees for preparation will only be allowed where the preparation is necessary and in exceptional circumstances.

Method for calculating additional preparation

  1. Applications for additional reading may be considered if the brief contains more than 600 pages of reading/scanning material or, preparation sought is greater than a total of 6 hours (where there is a combination of reading/scanning, viewing), and the trial will have one or more of the following characteristics:
    a) the trial is likely to exceed 10 days, or has taken more than 10 days and the conviction/sentence is appealed;
    b) the trial involves multiple accused or multiple offences;
    c) the trial involves complex legal issues, such as
    i) charges relating to relatively untested law (e.g. terrorism),
    ii) complex fraud or money laundering trials,
    iii) commercial manufacture or supply of a prohibited drug,
    iv) multiple offences against complainants
    v) contested expert evidence
  2. The method of calculating the fee rate for preparation will apply:
    a) Reading by both practitioners
    i) Statements
    ii) Record of interview
    iii) Viewing the record of interview
    b) Reading by the barrister only
    i) Committal transcript
    c) Reading/watching/listening by solicitor or barrister only, but not both
    i) Transcripts of telephone intercepts
    ii) Transcripts of listening devices
    iii) Transcripts of surveillance logs
    d) Scanning by either solicitor or barrister but not both practitioners
    i) Previous trial transcript
    ii) Surveillance logs other than surveillance logs transcribed
    iii) Photographs
    iv) Financial documents
    v) Video/audio tapes other than video/audio tapes transcribed
    vi) Medical reports
  3. The fee for reading the brief will be paid at the applicable practitioner hourly rate.
  4. The fee for scanning the brief will be paid at ½ the applicable practitioner hourly rate.

Note: The amount of additional preparation payable is at the absolute discretion of the CEO, Executive Director Criminal Law, Executive Director, Grants & Community Partnerships, Director Grants or their nominee.

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9. Travel entitlements

Travel Allowance for approvals made on or after 17 Sep 2012

  • A travel allowance and lump sum payment may be 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 must be sought for any travel allowance.
  • 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.

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 in accordance with comparable public sector award rates based on the reasonable benefit limits set by the Australian Tax Office (as updated annually).

 

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10. 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 Department of Premier and Cabinet of f the NSW government in accordance with comparable public sector award rates based on the reasonable benefit limits set by the Australian Tax Office (as updated annually). 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.

Am I allowed to engage an agent?

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.

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.