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Funding boost allows increase in fees paid to panel lawyers

8 Nov 2019

Fees paid to private lawyers acting in legally aided matters will rise thanks to a significant funding boost from the NSW Government.

Attorney General Mark Speakman made the announcement at an event held last month to mark the 40th anniversary of Legal Aid NSW, committing an additional $88 million over four years to support an increase for panel practitioner fees.

Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas welcomed the additional funding.

“This is – by far – the single biggest injection of funds for private lawyers doing legal aid work in the 40-year history of Legal Aid NSW,” he said.

“The new fee scales will better reflect the time that private lawyers actually spend preparing cases and representing clients in legally aided matters.

“This funding boost secures the future of crucial legal services for the state’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities for the foreseeable future.”

Solicitors’ hourly rates will gradually increase from the current $150 to $195 by 2023–24, aligning legal aid rates paid in NSW with those paid in other states and territories. Barristers’ fees will increase by a similar rate, about 30 per cent.

In addition, structural changes will be made to some of the fixed fees paid for specific activities including:

  • prison visits
  • travel allowances, and
  • preparation for summary crime matters in the Local Court and Children’s Court.

The fee scale reforms will enable lawyers to spend more time with their clients and preparing for cases. It will also reduce the risk of criminal matters being delayed or dismissed due to lack of representation.

The structural reforms will start progressively from January 1, 2020 and private lawyers’ fees will increase from July 1, 2020.

Read the Attorney General Mark Speakman’s media release.