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Complex criminal law solicitor panel

This webpage provides information for:

  • Solicitors who wish to apply for appointment to the Complex Criminal Law Solicitor Panel (formerly the Serious Criminal Law Panel) (the panel) for the representation of defendants and appellants in complex and appellate criminal matters throughout NSW and
  • Solicitors currently appointed to the panel who are required to apply for re-appointment.

The panel is open to solicitors only.

About the panel

The Early Appropriate Guilty Plea (EAGP) reforms commenced on 30 April 2018. The reform will result in a fundamental change to the way indictable criminal matters are dealt with in the Local Court.

The primary objective of the EAGP reform is to ensure that where a plea of guilty is appropriate, that plea is entered as early as possible, ideally in the Local Court. Mandatory sentencing discounts under the reform will incentivise the timing of the plea at an early stage.

Formal negotiations held with a view to encouraging early guilty pleas in appropriate cases will be facilitated by a mandatory case conferencing scheme at the Local Court stage.

There will be a significant change to the nature and extent of the work done by defence lawyers in indictable criminal matters at the Local Court stage. Further, there will be significant consequences for a client who is not adequately advised and represented at this stage of proceedings.

This panel will apply to complex matters and appellate matters in the following jurisdictions:

  • Local Court Committals
  • District Court Sentences
  • District Court Trials
  • Supreme Court Trials
  • Supreme Court Sentences
  • Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA)
  • High Court
  • Federal Court
  • Land and Environment Court (prosecutions and appeals to the Court of Appeal)

Matters defined as complex include:

  • 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 or where significant case management is required. 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;
  • Those trials involving a number of expert witnesses and 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;
  • Matters where there are multiple complainants and/or multiple defendants in sexual assault trials.

Matters outside the definition of a complex criminal matter will be assigned to panel solicitors appointed to the Indictable Criminal Law Panel.

A barrister, whether a Public Defender, panel barrister, or Senior Counsel, may be briefed by a panel solicitor in complex and appellate criminal law matters subject to Legal Aid NSW policies and prior approval.

Counsel briefed to appear in a complex criminal matter at case conferencing will retain the matter for either sentence or trial once it is committed to the District or Supreme Court.

This is not a panel for solicitors to conduct matters as a solicitor advocate.

Grants of legal aid in criminal law matters

Appointment to the panel does not confer an entitlement to work. Grants are assigned in accordance with the Legal Aid NSW Grants Allocation Guidelines.

Only a very limited number of offers are made via Grants Online for the assignment of legal aid matters to panel lawyers. This is because most matters are allocated either to the Legal Aid NSW Criminal Law Division or the panel lawyer who submitted the legal aid application on behalf of the client.

Offers that are made via Grants Online are usually matters that are not able to be conducted by the Criminal Law Division and where the initial application was not submitted online by a panel lawyer.

Panel information package

Panel information package to be updated.

Application form availability and due dates

Applications must be lodged via the Panels Application Website. Application form availability and due dates can be viewed on the panel schedule webpage.

Please note there are two application forms as follows:

  • Reappointments - This application is only for current panel members who have been advised by Legal Aid NSW that they must apply for reappointment to the panel.
  • New Applicants

It is important that the correct application form is submitted.

Panel enquiries

If you have any enquiries about the panel or the application process, or about using the Application website, please contact the Professional Practices by e-mail at panels@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or on 02 9219 5662.