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Complex criminal law solicitor panel practice standards update

This webpage provides information for current panel members of the Complex Criminal Law Solicitor Panel about updates made to the Complex Criminal Law Solicitor Panel Practice Standards. The updated practice standards take effect from 2 July 2018.

The Complex Criminal Law Solicitor Panel Practice Standards replace the Serious Criminal Law Panel Practice Standards.

Early appropriate guilty plea initiatives

Responsibilities regarding the briefing of counsel at Committal, including Case Conferencing, have been added.

In particular, panel lawyers must ensure that wherever possible that counsel briefed at committal, whether a Public Defender or private counsel, will continue to be briefed for the trial and or sentence proceedings.

Indictable appeals

Legal Aid NSW will be monitoring legally aided Indictable Appeal matters to ensure that relevant practice standards, policies and guidelines are being appropriately applied to appellate matters. This will include consideration of the outcomes of all legally aided higher court appellate matters and the advices provided by panel barristers in respective matters.

Solicitors

Complex Criminal Law Solicitor Panel lawyers are required to comply with new Grants procedures for Indictable Appeal matters as set out in the updated Practice Standards for the Complex Criminal Law Solicitor Panel. The new procedures are summarised below:

  • Counsel other than the trial Counsel is to be briefed to provide the merit advice
  • Where Senior Counsel was briefed at trial, different Senior Counsel should be briefed
  • A copy of the grounds of appeal with written submissions and a short note confirming merit OR advice that there is no merit must be provided to the Grants Division using the Submit Correspondence function in Grants Online
  • Panel solicitors are required to confirm in writing via Grants Online that they:
    • endorse the proposed grounds of appeal and submissions by Counsel in support of the appeal; or
    • endorse Counsel’s finding that there is no merit.
    • Have discussed the relative merit of the available grounds of appeal with Counsel.
  • An extension application must be submitted via Grants Online either seeking a grant of aid in relation to the type of hearing for which merit has been found OR recommending aid be refused where no merit has been found
  • Where grounds and submissions are received from counsel and aid is granted, without delay, file and serve the documents required by the Rules and Practice Notes
  • Submit a File Outcome of the Appeal including whether leave was granted or refused

This tip sheet provides information on what data is to be entered in Grants Online for appellate matters.

Barristers

There are important changes to the Appellate Criminal Law Barrister Practice Standards clarifying the requirements for barristers briefed to provide merit advices for appeals.

Panel solicitors must be aware of these changes and more information is available at the Appellate Criminal Law Barrister Panel Practice Standards update web page.

Audit

Panel service agreements require panel solicitors to comply with the Practice Standards as amended from time to time. Legal Aid NSW may audit panel solicitors for compliance with practice standards. It is therefore important that panel solicitors are familiar with the Practice Standards.

What's been updated

Section / ClauseDetails
Clauses 2.6, 2.7 and 2.8Update to Responsibilities to Legal Aid NSW directing panel lawyer to refer to clause 6.3.2 for specific requirements in appellate matters in relation to lodging applications, extensions, requests and file outcomes on Grants Online (CASES for in-house).
Section 3

Section 3 Complex Matters in the Local Court has been updated to include 4 sub-sections:

  • 3.1 Committals (for complex matters committed to the District or Supreme Court) (amended)
  • 3.2 Briefing counsel at committal (new)
  • 3.3 Case Conferencing (new)
  • 3.4 Attendance at a Case Conference (new)
  • In particular 3.4.5 where at the conclusion of the committal proceedings, ensure wherever possible that counsel briefed at committal, whether a Public Defender or private counsel, will continue to be briefed for the trial and or sentence proceedings.
Clause 4.2.2 (i)-(iv) Update on briefing requirements for a complex committal, trial or sentence. 
Clause 6.1.4 Ensure that Counsel other than the trial Counsel is briefed, unless there are exceptional circumstances. 
Clause 6.1.5 Ensure that where Senior Counsel appeared at trial, different Senior Counsel should be briefed on appeal. 
Clause 6.1.8 (ix) Prepare in the memo to Counsel a note of any approved reading fee and reference to the relevant proforma invoice IDs which are being assigned to Counsel to cover preparation/reading.
Clause 6.2.1

Provide a copy to the Grants Division of the following prepared by Counsel (including Senior Counsel and Public Defender):

(i) grounds of appeal with written submissions and a short note confirming merit; or

(ii) advice that there is no merit.

Clause 6.2.2Ensure that when Counsel considers there is no merit in an appeal, counsel should provide a comprehensive advice. 
Clause 6.2.3

Confirm in writing via Grants Online that the panel lawyer:

(i) endorses the proposed grounds of appeal and submissions by Counsel (including Senior Counsel and Public Defender) in support of the appeal; or

(ii) endorses Counsel’s finding that there is no merit

(iii) discussed the relative merit of the available grounds of appeal with Counsel.

Clause 6.3.1 Submitting grounds and submissions and the short note by Counsel (including Senior Counsel and Public Defender) confirming merit (where there is merit) or advice (where there is no merit) by ‘Submit Correspondence’ function on Grants Online (CASES for in-house) or as attachment to extension request in 6.3.2. 
Clause 6.3.2 

Lodging an extension request on Grants Online (CASES for in-house):

(i) Seeking a grant of aid in relation to the type of hearing for which merit is found; or

(ii) Recommending aid be refused where no merit has been found.

Clause 6.3.5 Where grounds and submissions are received from Counsel and aid is granted the panel lawyer must, without delay, file and serve the documents required by the Rules and Practice Notes i.e. the Notice of Appeal, grounds of appeal, rule 23C certificate and the submissions.  The matter will then be listed in the call-over by the registrar and listed for hearing. 
Clause 7.9 Submit a file outcome of the appeal in Grants Online, including whether leave was granted or refused. 

Contact for further information

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

If you have any enquiries about grants processes in relation to EAGP committals or appellate criminal law matters, please contact the Grants Crime Team by e-mail at grants.crime@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.