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Annual Report 2016 - 2017

Appealing decisions about legal aid

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

Six independent Legal Aid Review Committees (LARCs) determine appeals relating to legal aid applications that have been refused and grants of legal aid that have been terminated. The committees are established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 to ensure our clients receive an independent review of their application for legal aid and terminations of grants of legal aid.

Committee members’ work is integral to the Legal Aid NSW appeal process. The work of each committee is invaluable and members played an important role in delivering excellent outcomes to Legal Aid NSW clients.

Legal Aid Review Committee members

Ms Nichola Constant Mr James Lonsdale
Ms Janet Moss Ms Anthea Tomlin
Mr Brett Thomson Ms Leanne Spencer
Mr Jeremy Styles Mr Clyllyn Sperling
Ms Jane Sanders Ms Mary Falloon
Mr Andrew Borg Ms Jennifer Wong
Ms Maria Good Mr Donald Sword
Mr Lisa Battersby Ms Lina Rapone
Mr Peter Robinson Mr Nick Mitrevski
Ms Kathleen Hainsworth Ms Johanna Geddes
Ms Stephanie Koch Ms Lucy Boyle
Mr Winston Terracini SC Mr Christopher Dunn
Mr Paul Blacket SC Ms Gemma Slack-Smith
Ms Anne Healey Mr Paul Guterres
Ms Pauline Mueller Ms Melanie Faithfull
Ms Rita Zammit Ms Kathleen Lamoureux
Mr Kim Garling Ms Cheryl Drummy
Ms Sharon Gordon Mr Michael Granziera
Ms Emma Bayley Ms Alexandra Brown
Ms Pauline David Ms Terese Messner
Mr Jon Prowse Mr Mark Whelan
Mr Sharyn Hall Mr Greg Moore
Ms Thea Heness Dr Stephen van der Mye
Ms Miranda Tunica Mr Stephen Stuart

An increase in successful appeals

This year the review committees held 57 meetings and five teleconferences. The committees allowed appeals in 65 out of 1,049 matters lodged, compared to 60 appeals allowed out of 1,119 lodged last year. There was a substantial increase in the number of appeals lodged in criminal law and significant decrease in family law appeals.

The increase in criminal law appeals was due to the high number of Local Court defended hearing appeals (81 out of 314 received). Ten of the 25 appeals allowed in criminal law matters were in Local Court defended hearing matters.

The overall percentage of appeals that were successful increased from 5.1 per cent last year to 6.2 per cent this year. There was a decrease in the number of appeals allowed in criminal law, from 9.7 per cent last year to 6.2 per cent this year. The success rate in family matters increased by 2.3 per cent. See Table 1 for details. The trends in the number of appeals and outcomes over the past five years are set out in Table 2.

Table 1: Appeals and outcomes 2016–2017

Law TypeAllowedDisallowedPending Not appellableWithdrawn Total appeals Appeals allowed (%)
Civil 1 105 3 0 1 110 0.9%
Criminal 25 212 9 58 10 314 7.9%
Family 39 561 7 0 18 625 6.2%
TOTAL 65 878 19 58 29 1,049 6.20%

Table 2: Appeals and outcomes over five years

Review outcome2012–20132013–20142014–20152015–20162016–2017
Not appellable4690723658