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Policy Bulletin 2022 / 6 (Increased fees for private lawyers in certain Family Law matters)

1 Sep 2022

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved an increase in fees paid to private lawyers for certain Commonwealth family law matters.

Background

In September 2021, the Australian Government introduced structural reform to the federal family law court system through the establishment of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA). The FCFCOA provides a unified administrative structure to the previous overlapping family law jurisdictions of the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia.

New processes in the FCFCOA have increased the amount of preparation work lawyers are required to do. In response, Legal Aid NSW increased certain fees:

  • an additional 2 hours at the initial stage of court proceedings for parties, and
  • an additional hour for court-based mediations with a judicial registrar in exceptional circumstances.

What has changed?

Legal Aid NSW has introduced Guidelines for fees for court-based mediation convened by a Judicial Registrar. The guidelines provide for an additional hour of funding where there are exceptional circumstances that extend the mediation time. Exceptional circumstances include:

  • where a party is Aboriginal,
  • where a party has a cognitive impairment,
  • where a party requires an interpreter, or
  • where there are more than three parties to the proceedings.

For details, see Guidelines for fees for court-based mediation.

The Guidelines are published on the Legal Aid NSW Family Law Fee Scale.

Commencement date

The changes apply to work done from 1 September 2022.

Where the guidelines on exceptional circumstances are met, lawyers for parties and ICLs participating in court-based mediation may claim the additional hour on their Grants Online proforma invoice.

Invoices in Grants Online will automatically apply the increased fees for the initial stage for court proceedings for parties.

Contact for further information

Mary Whitehead on (02) 9219 5114 or mary.whitehead@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.