Legal Aid NSW Policy Online
Document Type: Policy
Chapter:12. Representation: Allocating Legal Work


12.1. Introduction

Section 11 of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW) (the Act) allows Legal Aid NSW to provide legal aid by such means as it determines including by allocating matters to its in-house legal practitioners or when appropriate to a public defender or by assigning matters to private legal practitioners.

Section 12 of the Act allows Legal Aid NSW to develop policies in relation to the allocation of legal work between in-house legal practitioners and private legal practitioners.

Legal Aid NSW policy for representation in civil, criminal and family law matters sets out when matters can and should be assigned to private legal practitioners.


12.1.1 Who is responsible for conducting legal aid matters?

In-house matters

The legal practitioner on record is Richard Funston but the matter can be conducted by any legal practitioner employed by Legal Aid NSW.

Matters assigned to private legal practitioners

If the matter is assigned to a legal practitioner on a Legal Aid NSW panel, it must be conducted by the panel legal practitioner. If the matter is assigned to a non-panel legal practitioner on the basis of exceptional circumstances, it may be conducted by any principal or employed legal practitioner in that firm.


Date Last Published: 23/12/2016

12.2. Civil law matters

12.2.1 Civil law - generally

Decisions about representation

Legal aid may be granted in civil law matters on the condition that the legal aid applicant is to be represented by:

Any of these conditions may be imposed regardless of who lodged the application for legal aid.

Legal aid applicants may nominate a legal practitioner on their Legal Aid application form. However Legal Aid NSW may decide not to assign the grant of legal aid to the nominated legal practitioner.

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a  Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide legal aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner or by a  specified private legal practitioner nominated by Legal Aid NSW.

See ss.34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act

What is the most cost effective service test?

In determining an application for legal aid in civil law matters, Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that the legal practitioner (in-house or private) or Community Legal Centre (CLC) receiving the grant of aid will provide the most cost-effective service due to the expertise of the legal practitioner or CLC in conducting the type of matter for which legal aid is to be granted.

Referring the applicant to a CLC

Legal Aid NSW may determine on receiving an application for legal aid to assign the matter to a Community Legal Centre (CLC) that has expertise in the area of law for which aid is sought, for representation by the CLC. If the CLC agrees to represent the applicant the usual policy for grants of aid to that CLC will apply.

See  CLC chapter for policies on granting legal aid to Community Legal Centres.


12.2.2 Human rights matters

If legal aid is granted in human rights matters it will be granted on the condition that the legal aid applicant is to represented by:

A matter will only be assigned to a private legal practitioner or CLC if Legal Aid NSW is satisfied that they will provide the most cost-effective service.

See 12.2.1(above) for general information on decisions about representation.


12.2.3 Guardianship Act matters

The Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) provides representation for clients and administers and co-ordinates legal aid grants for:

In-house legal practitioners from the Legal Aid NSW MHAS will represent clients in proceedings before the Guardianship Tribunal and in appeals to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal and Supreme Court as follows:

See 12.2.1(above) for general information on decisions about representation.


12.2.4 Mental health matters

Mental health matters will be retained by in-house legal practitioners from the Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) and will only be assigned to private legal practitioners, if:

An example of exceptional circumstances might be that there is a conflict of interest.

See 12.2.1(above) for general  information on decisions about representation.


12.2.5 Certain Commonwealth civil law matters

These following matters:

will only be assigned to specified private legal practitioner, if

Note: Only in-house legal practitioners at Legal Aid NSW will provide representation in matters granted under Civil Law Policy 6.18.5 Visa applications and representation in the AAT (M&RD)

See 12.2.1(above) for general information on decisions about representation.



Date Last Published: 14/09/2018

12.3. Criminal law matters

All criminal law matters, except children's criminal matters and apprehended domestic violence matters, will be conducted:

Exceptional circumstances

Note

See Representation Guideline 7.3 for guidance on when a matter should be assigned to the Homeless Persons Legal Service Advocate under this policy.

The Director, Criminal Law has authorised certain Commission staff to assign criminal matters to private legal practitioner.

See Criminal Law Division Practice Directions.

Note

Legal aid applicants may nominate a legal practitioner on their Legal Aid application form. However, in the grant of legal aid, the matter may not be assigned to the nominated legal practitioner.

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner or by a specified private legal practitioner nominated by Legal Aid NSW.

See ss34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act

12.3.1 Domestic violence matters

If an applicant for legal aid is defined as a ‘protected person' by Legal Aid NSW and is in an apprehended domestic violence order matter under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW), they will be represented by:

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner or by a specified private legal practitioner nominated by Legal Aid NSW.

See ss.34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act

12.3.2 Prisoners matters

Representation of prisoners in prisoners' matters will be by the Commission's Prisoners' Legal Service and will only be allocated to private legal practitioners if:

Note

Legal aid applicants may nominate a legal practitioner on their Legal Aid application form. However, in the grant of legal aid, the matter may not be assigned to the nominated legal practitioner.

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner or by a specified private legal practitioner nominated by Legal Aid NSW.

See ss.34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act

12.3.3 Children's criminal matters

Legal aid may be granted to a child applicant in criminal law matters on the condition that the applicant is to be represented by either

Note

Legal aid applicants may nominate a legal practitioner on their Legal Aid application form. However, in the grant of legal aid, the matter may not be assigned to nominated legal practitioner.

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner or by a specified private legal practitioner nominated by Legal Aid NSW.

See ss.34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act

12.3.4 Reassignment of criminal matters

Section 12 of the Act allows the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales (Legal Aid NSW) to develop policies in relation to the allocation of legal work between in-house legal practitioners, including public defenders and external private legal practitioners.

Legal Aid NSW will not authorise the reassignment of a grant of legal aid in criminal matters from:

if, in reassigning the matter Legal Aid NSW will incur additional costs, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

What are exceptional circumstances?

Legal Aid NSW will be satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances, only if:

See Representation Guideline 7.2 for guidance on applying the reassignment policy

Note

If a legally aided person withdraws instructions from a practitioner, or otherwise makes it impossible for the practitioner to continue with the representation, Legal Aid NSW will determine whether it breaches the condition of the grant of aid and if satisfied that it does, may terminate the grant of legal aid.


Date Last Published: 20/12/2016

12.4. Family law matters

12.4.1 Family law - generally

Decisions about representation

Legal aid may be granted to applicants in family law matters on the condition that the legal aid applicant is to be represented by either:

Legal aid applicants may nominate a legal practitioner on their Legal Aid application form. However, in the grant of legal aid, the matter may not be assigned to a nominated legal practitioner.

Legal representation in child support matters is to be provided by the Child Support Service unless:

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide legal aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner.

See ss.34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act.

12.4.2 Contact Dispute Mediation - for children and young people

Legal representation for children and young people in contact dispute mediation is to be provided by an in-house legal practitioner unless:

Legal Aid NSW will only appoint a single legal representative for all children and young people who are the subject of the mediation, unless exceptional circumstances exist.

Exceptional circumstances include where one of the children or young people is over 12 years of age, and that child or young person holds strong views about contact arrangements that do not accord with the views of the legal representative about the best interests of the younger siblings.

See 12.4.1 (above) for general information on decisions about representation

12.4.3 Contact Dispute Mediation - for adults

Legal representation for an adult in a contact dispute mediation is to be provided by an in-house legal practitioner, a community legal centre (in accordance with the relevant partnership agreement with Legal Aid NSW), or the Aboriginal Legal Service unless:

See 12.4.1 (above) for general information on decisions about representation.

12.4.4 Divorce matters

Legal representation for an applicant in divorce matters is to be provided by an in-house legal practitioner, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances may include where the in-house practice has a conflict of interest or does not have the capacity to take on the matter, or the client is unable to access a Legal Aid NSW office.

See 12.4.1 (above) for general information on decisions about representation.


Date Last Published: 26/03/2019

12.5. Duty solicitor matters

Where Legal Aid NSW has a duty solicitor service at the:

The rostered duty solicitor will represent the legally assisted person unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If the duty matter concerns an apprehended domestic violence order refer to policy 12.3.1 (above).

No right of appeal

There is no right of appeal to a Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) against a decision to provide aid on the condition that a matter will be conducted by an in-house legal practitioner or by a specified private legal practitioner nominated by Legal Aid NSW.

See ss.34(4A) and 56(1AA) of the Act


Date Last Published: 23/12/2016