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Annual Report 2015 - 2016

Appealing decisions about legal aid

Independent reviews of decisions made by Legal Aid NSW guarantee procedural fairness.

Six independent Legal Aid Review Committees (LARC) determine appeals relating to legal aid applications and grants of legal aid that have been refused. They are established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 to ensure our clients have fair and equitable access to legal aid services. Committee members are appointed for a period of up to two years, and are eligible for reappointment.

Committee members’ work is integral to the operation of the Legal Aid NSW appeal process. Their work is invaluable and members played an important role in delivering fair and consistent outcomes to Legal Aid NSW clients.

Legal Aid Review Committee members
Mr Brad Row Ms Stephanie Koch
Ms Janet Moss Ms Anthea Tomlin
Mr Brett Thomson Ms Leanne Spencer
Mr Jeremy Styles Mr John Berry
Ms Roslyn Everett Mr John Levy
Ms Geraldine Daley Ms Helen Miedzinski
Ms Lisa Battersby Mr Donald Sword
Mr John Terry Ms Lina Rapone
Mr Peter Robinson Ms Alison Walsh
Mr John McDonnell Ms Clare Miller
Ms Kathleen Hainsworth Ms Johanna Geddes
Mr Winston Terracini SC Ms Elizabeth Boyle
Ms Anne Healey Mr Christopher Dunn
Ms Pauline David Ms Jacqueline Dawson
Ms Pauline Mueller Ms Melanie Faithfull
Ms Rita Zammit Ms Maria Good
Mr Kim Garling Ms Cheryl Drummy
Ms Sharon Gordon Ms Catherine Samuels
Ms Emma Bayley Ms Kerri Phillips
Mr Ian Bourke Mr Mark Whelan
Mr Paul Blacket SC Mr Philip Sim
Mr Thomas Spohr Mr Clyllyn Sperling
Ms Thea Heness Dr Stephen van der Mye
Ms Miranda Tunica Mr Stephen Stuart

A 5% increase in number of appeals allowed

This year the review committees held 57 meetings and eight teleconferences. The committees allowed appeals in 60 out of 1,169 matters submitted, compared to 49 appeals allowed out of 1,149 submitted last year. There was an increase in the number of appeals lodged in family law and a decrease in civil law and criminal law appeals.

The percentage of appeals that were successful has increased from 4.3% to 5.1%. There was an increase in the number of appeals allowed in criminal law, from 7.4% to 9.7%. The success rate in family matters increased slightly by 0.3%. See Table 1 for details.

Appeal trends over five years

The average number of appeals submitted each year over the past five years has been 1,323. See Table 2 for details.

Table 1. Appeals to LARC and outcomes over five years

Law Type AllowedDisallowedPending Not appellable Withdrawn Total appeals Appeals allowed (%)
Civil 6 83 2 0 0  91  6.6%
Criminal 19 130 6 36 4 195  9.7%
Family 35 666 6 0 176 883  4%
TOTAL        60 879  1 36 180 1,169  5.1%

Table 2. Appeals and outcomes over five years

Review outcome 2011–20122012–20132013–20142014–20152015–2016
Allowed 127 90 122 49 60
Disallowed 1,137 959 1,196 999 879
Pending 57 59 55 25 14

Not appellable

42 46 90 72 36
Withdrawn 12 11 4 4 180
Total     1,375 1,165 1,467 1,149 1,169