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Quality standards update

This web page provides sets out the upcoming updates made to the Legal Aid NSW Quality Standards.

Version 2.0 - effective from 17 November 2022

Section / Clause NumberDetails
Definitions [New]Definition for ‘Delegated Associate’ and ‘Nominated Associate’ added.
Definitions [Update]Definition of lawyer updated to include the term ‘associate’ includes Nominated and Delegated associates.
Definitions [Update]Definition of legal aid work updated to include any court appearance under a grant of legal aid.
Clause 2.8 [Update]Always act on instructions from the client and undertakings made to the client.
Clause 2.15 [Update]If an agent is required to attend a court event, unless there are exceptional circumstances, ensure they are eligible to undertake Legal Aid work and meet the relevant panel requirements, and notify the client of the agent’s attendance before the court event.
Clause 2.18 [Update]

At the conclusion of a matter, provide the client with an explanation (written where practicable) of the outcome, including (as relevant):

2.18.1. a copy of the final orders or written judgment

2.18.2. the action the client is to take

2.18.2. appeal rights and any time limits

Clause 7 [Update]When representing a child as an Independent Legal Representative or Independent Children’s Lawyer, the lawyer must meet with the child, unless the child is pre-verbal or unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Clause 8 [Update]When representing a child as a Direct Legal Representative, the lawyer must meet with the child as soon as possible and maintain appropriate contact, communicating with the child and seeking instructions on all relevant issues in the matter.
Clause 10.6 [Update]Ask the client if they would prefer to communicate using an interpreter and, if so, arrange an interpreter, including ensuring there is one available at all court events.
Clause 11.1 [Update]Comply with the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) and the Legal Profession Conduct Rules
Clause 11.2 [Update]Demonstrate knowledge of and compliance with applicable legislation, regulations, practice notes, practice directions, pre-action procedures, court orders and directions.
Clause 12.1 [Update]Maintain an up-to-date knowledge and understanding of their obligations to Legal Aid NSW, including its policies and guidelines.
Clause 12.6 [Update]Notify Legal Aid NSW immediately of any circumstances that could give rise to a claim against Legal Aid NSW or any claim brought against the Law Practice.
Clause 13.8 [Update]Apply for a grant of legal aid for any client represented on a duty basis who satisfies Legal Aid NSW eligibility policies and guidelines for a grant of legal aid.
Clause 13.13
[New]
At the time of accepting the grant of aid, ensure the Law Practice is available to undertake the work pursuant to the grant of aid.
Clause 13.14
[Previously 13.13 - Update]
Immediately notify the Grants Division and submit a Transfer Request on Grants Online if the Law Practice is not available to undertake the work pursuant to the grant of aid or it otherwise becomes appropriate to cease acting for a client.
Clause 13.16
[Previously 13.15 - Update]
Seek approval from the Grants Division before briefing counsel except where briefing counsel to appear as agent and no extension of aid is sought.
Clause 13.21 [New]Where a Principal or Nominated Associate is exercising a delegation to determine an application for Legal Aid under section 34 of the Legal Aid Commission Act, the Principal or Nominated Associate must determine eligibility in accordance with the Legal Aid NSW eligibility policies and guidelines as published in Policy Online
Clause 15.3.1 [Update]

Note all court attendances on the file in chronological order with:

15.3.1. date and venue of court appearances and applicable court time

Clause 15.3.6 [Update]

Note all court attendances on the file in chronological order with:

15.3.6. the date the proceedings have been adjourned to or the outcome of the matter

Clause 17.1 [Update]Ensure counsel has the necessary skill, expertise and competence to act in the matter. If the matter is an Indictable Crime, Complex Crime or Appellate Crime matter, counsel must be on the relevant barrister briefing panel, except with prior written approval from the Grants Division.
Clause 22.6 [Update]Obtain signed instructions from the client if he or she intends to plead guilty or consent to any order, or where this is not reasonably practicable take clear file notes of advice and instructions.
Clause 23.1 [Update]Comply with the Guidelines for Mental Health Panel Lawyers
Clause 26.2
[New]
Comply with the Legal Aid NSW Working with Children Guide to best practice for Children’s Legal Representatives
Clause 26.4
[Previously 26.3 - Update]
Appear for the sibling group in the capacity of an independent legal representative, unless exceptional circumstances exist, and if children in a sibling group are to be separately represented, make submissions via Grants Online as to why an additional representative is required (unless an order has been made to that effect)
Clause 26.5
[New]
Not appear for a sibling group in the capacity of a direct legal representative unless exceptional circumstances exist, and if children in a sibling group are to be jointly represented, make submissions via Grants Online as to why an additional representative is not required or not appropriate (unless an order has been made to that effect)
Clause 26.6.1
[Previously 26.4.1 - Update]

Maintain continuity of representation where possible and if continuity cannot be maintained:

26.6.1.  advise the Grants Division immediately so that the matter may be re-assigned (lawyers must not re-allocate the matter to another lawyer directly)

Clause 27.9
[New]
Attend all court events unless there are exceptional circumstances
Clause 27.10
[Previously 27.9 - Update]
Unless acting as agent, where counsel is required, seek approval from the Grants Division and brief counsel who demonstrate high level skill and experience in children’s matters in the Family Law Courts (and child representation matters in particular)
Clause 28.1 [Update]Meet with all children, unless the child is preverbal, or unless there are exceptional circumstances which must be clearly noted on the file
Clause 30
[New]
When accepting legal aid work under a specific list or scheme, the lawyer must comply with the Guidelines relevant to that work.
Clause 42
[Previously 41 - Update]
The Principal may nominate lawyers at their Law Practice to undertake legally aided work provided they satisfy the following individual requirements of the panel to which the work relates, or with written approval of Legal Aid NSW.
Clause 42.13
[Previously 41.13 - Update]
Satisfactory completion of the Legal Aid NSW Care and Protection Child Representation: Workshop within the last two years
Clause 42.21
[New]
A current Working With Children Check
Clause 43
[Previously 42 - Update]
The Principal and the Nominated Associates may delegate legal aid work (except duty work) from the following panels to Delegated Associates at their Law Practice who satisfy the following conditions:
Clause 43.1
[Previously 42.1 - Update]
Lawyers with less than two years post-admission experience in criminal law.
Clause 43.2
[Previously 42.2 - Update]
Lawyers with less than five but more than two years post-admission experience in criminal law, provided the work is ‘non-complex indictable’ as defined by Legal Aid NSW.
Clause 43.3
[Previously 42.3 - Update]
Lawyers with less than two years post-admission experience in family law.
Clause 43.4
[Previously 42.4 - Update]
Lawyers with less than five years post-admission experience in care and protection, provided the work is for an adult client.
Clause 43.5
[Previously 42.5 - Update]
Lawyers with less than two years post-admission experience in civil law.
Clause 44
[Previously 43 - Update]
The Principal and the Nominated Associates must not delegate legal aid work in any other circumstance except those set out in Clause 43 unless with prior written approval from Legal Aid NSW.
Clause 45
[Previously 44 - Update]
The Principal and the Nominated Associates must comply with clause 49
Clause 46.3
[Previously 45.3 - Update]
Ten years’ post admission experience in Criminal Law as a solicitor or barrister, including a minimum of three years’ experience as a barrister (dating from the commencement of the Reading Program)
Clause 48.2
[Previously 45.3 - Update]
Have adequate case management processes to ensure the protection of clients’ privacy and to easily identify and report on current legal aid work assigned to the Law Practice and any Associates, including the ability to generate
Clause 49.2
[Previously 48.2 - Update]
Ensure that Associates undertaking legal aid work have the appropriate education, training, skills and experience to do legal aid work in accordance with the Quality Standards
Clause 49.3
[Previously 48.3 - Update]
Ensure that Associates undertaking legally aided work assigned to the Law Practice are registered for Grants Online and that their details are up to date and accurate
Clause 49.4
[Previously 48.4 - Update]
Regularly review and consider the Associate’s caseload to ensure it is manageable
Clause 49.5
[Previously 48.5 - Update]
Ensure only nominated and delegated associates undertake legal aid work
Clause 49.6
[Previously 48.6 - Update]
Ensure Associates who undertake legal aid work only delegate work as permitted by the Quality Standards and actively supervise all delegated work

Compliance

The Law Practice Panel Service Agreement requires the Law Practice to comply with the Quality Standards as amended from time to time. Legal Aid NSW may audit Panel Law Practices for compliance with the Quality Standards. It is therefore important that the Principal of the Panel Law Practice and all Associates who undertake legal aid work are familiar with the Quality Standards.

Contact

For any further enquiries about the Quality Standards, contact the Private Lawyer Quality Standards Unit at panels@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.