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Annual Report 2018 - 2019

Legislative compliance and fair processes

Legal Aid NSW’s Legal Policy Unit became known as the In-house Counsel Unit in July 2018. The re-framing of the unit enabled a renewed focus on the provision of legal advice and representation to the organisation.

The unit now provides legal advice on a range of issues across Legal Aid NSW, including the disclosure of information, professional standards and obligations, and our obligations under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW). The In- House Counsel Unit conducts litigation on behalf of Legal Aid NSW, drafts and negotiates contracts, agreements and cooperative arrangements such as memoranda of understanding, and responds to applications made under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).

This year, the In-house Counsel Unit commenced a review of the Legal Aid NSW Privacy Management Plan and implemented the recommendations of an independent review of Legal Aid Review Committee processes.

OBJECTIVE: Meeting clients' needs

The unit implemented reforms to Legal Aid Review Committee (LARC) processes in response to 22 recommendations made by Laurie Glanfield AM following an independent review, commissioned by Legal Aid NSW. A working group led by the Director of Policy, Planning and Programs oversaw the implementation of the recommendations. We aimed to improve client outcomes by creating more clarity around decision-making and reducing LARC appeal waiting times.

As part of our reforms, we:

  • reinstituted minute-taking at all LARC meetings
  • increased training opportunities for LARC members and staff, and
  • reviewed templates to ensure the provision of quality reports to the committees.

We also made changes to the way we communicate with applicants for legal aid about the appeal process.

"We met our legal obligations under the relevant legislative requirements."

Full compliance with public interest disclosures

Legal Aid NSW has complied with our six-monthly reporting obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (NSW).

There was one public interest disclosure made during this reporting period. We notified the NSW Ombudsman and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Public interest disclosures 2018–19

Public officials who have made a public interest disclosure 1
Public interest disclosures received by Legal Aid NSW
Corrupt conduct 1
Maladministration 0
Serious and substantial waste of public money 0
Government information contraventions 0
Public interest disclosures finalised by Legal Aid NSW
Types of public interest disclosures 0
Public interest disclosures made by public officials in performing their day-to-day functions as public officials 0
Public interest disclosures made under a statutory or other legal obligation 0
All other public interest disclosures 1

Significant judicial decisions relating to the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW)

Legal Aid NSW responded to an appeal of a decision of the Legal Aid Review Committee in Warwick v Legal Aid Commission of NSW [2018] NSWSC 1920. In that decision, the NSW Supreme Court confirmed the power of the Commission to impose a contribution on a financially associated person under sections 34 and 34B of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW).


Legal Aid NSW manages personal information in accordance with its Privacy Management Plan. The Plan explains how we manage personal information under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) and Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW).

We include privacy notices in our application forms and other public documents, and provide guidance to staff on dealing with privacy issues and queries.

We received one request for an internal review during this reporting period. It was conducted in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) and the Information and Privacy Commission NSW guidelines. A report outlining our findings was provided to the Privacy Commissioner for review and her recommendations were incorporated in the final report, which was provided to the complainant and the Privacy Commissioner.

Right to information

Legal Aid NSW adopts a proactive approach to the release of information where possible. We review our published information on a regular basis and routinely upload information to our website that may be of interest to the general public. This includes updating a wide range of publications and resources for the public including factsheets, brochures and pamphlets about legal rights and responsibilities, policy documents and law reform submissions. Factsheets are also available in a variety of languages.

The full details of the applications we received under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act) are set out in Appendix 8. During the 2018–19 reporting period we received 18 formal GIPA applications. Most of our applications were requests by individuals for their own information. There were three internal reviews conducted in the 2018–19 reporting period.