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Annual Report 2014 - 2015

Legislative compliance

Significant cases

R v Pratten (No 14) [2015] NSWSC 457 and R v Pratten (No 15) [2015] NSWSC 573 concerned an application for a stay of proceedings, relying on Dietrich principles and s.57 of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW).

Rothman J confirmed that it is not the role of the Court to arbitrate the fees set by Legal Aid NSW, but noted that the legal aid package offered may be so inadequate or subject to such restrictive terms that the accused should be taken to be a person who is unrepresented.

Rothman J also suggested that s.56(1) (b) of the Act would allow an applicant to appeal against a refusal to vary a grant of legal aid as much as it would allow an appeal against a variation.

In Kazas-Rogaris v Council of the Law Society of New South Wales [2014] NSWCATAD 115, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal reviewed a decision by the Council of the Law Society of NSW to reprimand a lawyer for, inter alia, a breach of s.41 of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979.

Section 41 provides that a private lawyer is not entitled to charge a legally aided person for costs or disbursements in connection with work assigned to them by Legal Aid NSW, without Legal Aid NSW approval. The Tribunal discussed the interpretation of s.41, and commented that Legal Aid NSW is best placed to interpret the provision. The case confirmed that a breach of s.41 could contribute to a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct under s.540 of the Legal Profession Act 2004.

Legislative amendments

Consequential amendments were made to the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 following the adoption in New South Wales of the Legal Profession Uniform Law.

Full compliance with public interest disclosures

Legal Aid NSW has complied with our six-monthly reporting obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. There were two public interest disclosures made during 2014-2015.

Public interest disclosures (PIDs) 2014-2015 No.
Public officials who have made a PID 2
PIDs received by Legal Aid NSW
Corrupt conduct 2
Maladministration 0
Serious and substantial waste of public money 0
Government information contraventions 0
PIDs finalised by Legal Aid NSW 2
Types of PIDs
PIDs made by public officials in performing their day-to-day functions as public officials 2
PIDs made under a statutory or other legal obligation 0
All other PIDs 0