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Audit FAQs

  1. How do I communicate with Professional Practices in relation to audits?

    All communication with the Legal Aid NSW Professional Practices Branch regarding audits is via the Noticeboard in Grants Online.

    Audit requests and other correspondence issued to panel lawyers require a response within a given timeframe.

    Here are some tips for using this system effectively:

    • Please quote the Compliance Check ID (CCID) in all communication with Professional Practices.  This can be found at the top right hand corner of any correspondence issued by Professional Practices
    • Where available, please respond to a request for audit using the Respond to Audit Request option. This page contains a free text box and allows you to upload the requested documents.
    • Where there is no Respond to Audit Request option, use the Submit Audit Correspondence option under Audit Management to submit all your audit correspondence. Do not use the Submit Correspondence option under Grants Management which is used for communicating with the Grants Division. This correspondence is not received by Professional Practices
    • Use this system to respond to audit requests rather than using email or regular mail
  2. What will happen if I do not respond to an audit request?

    Panel lawyers are reminded to regularly check the notice board in Grants Online for audit requests which require them to respond within a given timeframe.

    Failing or refusing to cooperate with a Legal Aid NSW audit can have serious consequences for panel lawyers under Section 52B(11) of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 including:

    • Termination of the services of the lawyer
    • Removal of the lawyer from panels to which the lawyer is appointed
    • Refusal to pay the lawyer any money payable to the lawyer

    Given the ongoing momentum with our audits, it is likely that you will receive an audit request before long.  Don’t ignore it. If you have any questions about an audit request you receive, please contact Professional Practices by responding to the audit request via Grants Online.

  3. How do I ask for more time to respond to an audit request?

    Simply respond to the audit request using the ‘Respond to Audit Request’ option in Grants Online and indicate the length of extension time you require.

  4. Why am I being audited again?

    Legal Aid NSW is undertaking audits on a continual basis.  This means that practitioners may be audited more than once in any given year.

    These audits are important as they enable Legal Aid NSW to verify that work has been done and that claims are accurate. They also support the streamlined approval processes that are available via Grants Online.

  5. How do I adjust a claim that has been submitted in error?

    The Adjust Claim function in Grants Online allows you to submit an amended claim. Once the claim has been certified (ie paid), only negative adjustments can be made.

    A tip sheet on our Grants Online User Guides page provides instructions on how to submit an adjusted claim. Follow this process if you have submitted a claim for an incorrect amount or have been asked to refund money following an audit.

  6. What details do I need to include in my file notes of court attendances?

    All Practice Standards under File Management require panel lawyers to keep a record of their court attendances on their client file in date order and include at a minimum:

    • Coram
    • date and venue of court appearance
    • the name of the lawyer attending on behalf of the legally assisted person
    • start and finish times/s of the court appearance
    • the date proceedings have been adjourned to or the outcome of the matter A Court attendance sheet template has been developed to assist lawyers maintain this information.  This can be found on our website under Panels, Audit & Practice Standards - Audit Information.
  7. Do I need to keep any records when claiming mileage from Legal Aid NSW?

    Yes. Point 10 of the Terms and conditions of use of Grants online states:

    'The practitioner must retain on his/her file receipts for all disbursements for which payment has been claimed from Legal Aid NSW. However, for disbursements consisting of telephone calls, faxes, photocopies or mileage, the practitioner may retain instead of receipts, other verifying evidence such as file notes, fax transmission records and copies of telephone accounts, vehicle logs and photocopier logs.'

    For mileage, we will accept any documentation that demonstrates the lawyer’s travel from their office to a particular court, the date of travel, the kilometres and the client they are representing. This can include file notes and court attendance notes. For the claim to be deemed acceptable, the mileage claimed must be reasonable in accordance with the website www.travelmate.com.au. To assist lawyers with maintaining adequate records for mileage, a version of the Court attendance sheet has been created to include a section for recoding a starting location (usually the lawyer’s office) and the kilometres travelled, which can be used when applicable. The Court attendance sheet plus travel can be found on our website under Panels, Audit & Practice Standards - Audit Information.

  8. What are the requirements around verification of Centrelink details with Centrelink?

    Legal Aid NSW can directly verify a client’s entitlements with Centrelink but lawyers must keep the client’s signed consent on file.

    If your client receives a Centrelink benefit, and consents to Legal Aid NSW verifying their entitlement directly with Centrelink, you don’t have to obtain proof of their Centrelink entitlement when you obtain verification of the client’s means. You indicate on the Grants Online form that the client consents to the direct check with Centrelink. This saves time for both lawyers and their clients.

    If you indicate on the Grants Online form that the client consents to the Centrelink check, you must:

    • ensure that the client has signed the Centrelink consent, either on the hardcopy legal aid application form or on the printed version of the Grants Online form
    • retain the signed consent on your file for audit by either Legal Aid NSW or by Centrelink.

    Retaining consent on file is part of the Terms and Conditions of use of Grants Online. Compliance with these terms is a requirement under the panel practice standards and service agreement.

  9. Why do you need me to submit a File Outcome form in Grants Online?

    Panel lawyers must submit a file outcome form in Grants Online when a legally aided matter is concluded.

    It is important that when a legally aided matter is completed, in addition to submitting a final claim, the practitioner completes a file outcome form in Grants Online. If a grant concludes but there is no need to submit another claim, a file outcome must still be submitted.

    Data in the file outcome form provides valuable information that enables Legal Aid NSW to plan future service delivery, evaluate our services and demonstrate the value of legal aid to the community.

    Additionally, a file outcome form provides certainty and clarity that a legally aided matter has concluded.  This avoids any confusion around section 41 of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 if the client returns in the future seeking representation and assistance with their legal problem.

    The requirement for lawyers to submit a file outcome form at the completion of a legally aided matter is outlined under clause 3.5.1 of panel lawyer Service Agreements, which states:

    'At the conclusion of an assigned matter for which aid has been granted, the Lawyer will advise Legal Aid NSW of the outcome of the proceedings by completing and submitting the File Outcome form in Grants Online.'