What's New

17 June 2015 Regional Town Agent Protocols
 

Protocols have been developed  for preferred suppliers when needing LAQ to appear as a town agent in regional offices.

View the Regional Town Agent Protocols (PDF, 25KB).


16 June 2015 Grants Online unavailable from 5.30pm Friday 19 June 2015 to 5pm Saturday 20 June 2015
 

Due to a power shutdown at the Herschel Street office no data or network services will be available from 5.30pm Friday 19 June 2015 to 5pm Saturday 20 June 2015.

This outage will affect the Legal Aid Queensland website and Grants Online.

All preferred suppliers will need to be logged off by 5.30pm on Friday 19 June 2015. Services are expected to be restored by 5pm Saturday 20 June.


29 May 2015

Changes to Commonwealth funding and grants of aid

 

Following the recent federal budget, Legal Aid Queensland was advised that our Commonwealth funding for 2015-16 would be reduced by $1.5m. This follows a $3m cut to our Commonwealth funding in 2014-15. Most of our Commonwealth funding is spent on family law grants of aid.

At last night’s meeting (Thursday 28 May 2015), the Legal Aid Queensland board considered how it would manage the impact of these funding cuts on our budget and services. The board decided that it would respond by reducing corporate overheads, reducing the salaries budget (through natural attrition), and, regrettably, reducing the availability of grants of aid for Commonwealth matters.

Over the coming weeks, we will be consulting with the courts and the legal profession to ensure the changes to our guidelines for granting aid in Commonwealth matters are as fair as possible.

We will be able to provide you with more information about the impact of the federal funding cuts on our Commonwealth grants of aid in July, following the June board meeting.

Thanks for your ongoing support and understanding while we work through this issue.

Anthony Reilly, CEO
Legal Aid Queensland


29 May 2015 Preferred supplier agreements
 

The current preferred supplier agreement will expire on the 31 July 2015. All existing firms that want to continue as a preferred supplier after this date will be required to reapply for inclusion on the panel. Application for inclusion on the preferred supplier panel is also open to new firms. The application package for the 2015-2018 preferred supplier agreement is now available.

The new preferred supplier agreement will commence on the 1 August 2015 and will run for three years. All firms applying for inclusion under this agreement (whether existing or new) are required to:

Only minor amendments have been made to the preferred supplier agreement and these are outlined in the schedule of changes (PDF, 79KB).

To help you in addressing the selection criteria, you can view copies of Legal Aid Queensland’s Practice Management and Case Management Standards online.

Applications close 5.00pm Friday 26 June 2015 and should be sent to:

The Coordinator
Preferred Supplier Strategy
Legal Aid Queensland
44 Herschel Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

or to:
GPO Box 2449
Brisbane QLD 4001.

Our office will acknowledge receipt of your application. Please do not send multiple copies of your application.

Admission of new firms to a Preferred Supplier list is not only dependent upon applicants satisfying the selection criteria specified in the application guidelines document, but also upon the level of service coverage required in a particular region which will be determined by Legal Aid Queensland. Our office will notify all applicants of the outcome of their application once a decision has been made.

Please note that even if your firm is on a current Preferred Supplier list, you must make formal application for inclusion on the new Preferred Supplier list in order to undertake legal aid work after 31 July 2015. From that date, all grants of legal aid will only be available to firms on the new Preferred Supplier lists. The current Independent Children’s Lawyer & Separate Representative, Conference Chairperson, Property Arbitrator and Civil Law Legal Aid Scheme lists are exempt from the Preferred Supplier selection process.

For any questions you can contact Erin Ames, Coordinator Preferred Supplier Strategy or phone (07) 3247 0380.


26 May 2015 Grants Online unavailable from 5.30pm Friday 29 May to 8am Monday 1 June 2015
 

Grants Online will be unavailable from 5.30pm Friday 29 May until 8am Monday 1 June 2015 due to a system upgrade.  We apologise for any inconvenience.


26 May 2015

Improved client letters

 

Grants will be implementing changes to letters which advise refusal decisions to clients and solicitors. On Monday 25 May new refusal reasons, letters and emails will go-live. These changes support better information being given to practitioners and clients when an application for aid is refused at the initial stage or subsequently through the review process.

Please send any feedback about these changes through the grants officer responsible for your firm.


13 May 2015 Grants Online outage planned for this weekend has been postponed
 

Due to technical issues, the Grants Online outage planned for this weekend will no longer be occurring. Grants Online will be available to preferred suppliers.

We will advise of any further outages.


24 April 2015 Do you work with children and young people? Check out the new best practice guidelines
 

Legal Aid Queensland has developed best practice guidelines to ensure our staff and service providers are working effectively with our young clients and providing them with appropriate and responsive services.

The guidelines, which were developed through extensive consultation with the legal profession, members of the judiciary and youth justice agencies, apply to all Legal Aid Queensland staff and preferred suppliers across all areas of law including criminal, civil and family law.

The guidelines take effect from 1 May 2015 and have been integrated into Legal Aid Queensland’s case management standards, which set the minimum standards for the conduct of files for preferred suppliers and in-house legal staff.

Suppliers who work with children and young people should read the attached guidelines (PDF, 205KB) and the accompanying framework document (PDF, 185KB) and apply the principles as part of their everyday work practices.

An information session about how the guidelines were developed and how to apply them was held on 18 March 2015. You can view the information session on our YouTube site.

24 April 2015 Expression of interest—Law firms (x2) to deliver farm and rural legal services to Queensland primary producers
 

Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) is seeking expressions of interest from law firms to deliver services on its behalf to primary producers in Central Queensland (Bundaberg north to Proserpine and west) North and Far North Queensland (Bowen north and west) and South west Queensland (Miles west).

Expressions of interest close on Friday 15 May 2015.

See the attached flyer (PDF, 152KB) for more information.

Contact: Erin Ames (Preferred supplier Strategy coordinator) or call (07) 3247 0380 for more information and to access the selection criteria.


20 April 2015 Grants Online unavailable from 5.30pm to 8pm, Monday 20 April 2015
 

All Preferred suppliers to save all applications and log off by 5:30pm.

We are carrying out urgent maintenance on our systems this evening, and as a result Grants Online will be unavailable from 5:30pm until approximately 8pm (Monday 20/4/2015).  We expect Grants Online to be available after this time.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Please contact the helpdesk for any questions.


30 March 2015 Grants Online unavailable from 5.30pm to 11.30pm Wednesday, 1 April 2015
 

All Preferred suppliers to save all applications and log off by 5:30pm (Wednesday, 1 April)

Legal Aid Queensland is in the final stages of testing a new firewall to provide secure access to and from our systems.  During this testing period, the Legal Aid Queensland website and Grants Online will be unavailable from 5.30pm to 11.30pm on Wednesday, 1 April 2015.

All preferred suppliers will need to save all applications and log off by 5.30pm.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Please contact the helpdesk for any questions.


9 March 2015 Extraordinary grants - crime
 

As you would be aware requests for extraordinary preparation grants for higher court matters have required completion of a separate template sent through to LAQ for assessment. Continuing our efforts to reduce red tape and create administrative efficiencies the requests for additional preparation for matters which meet the extraordinary criteria have been developed as information requests accessible through GOL in the same way and similar format as other criminal law matters.

The criteria for extraordinary case grants and their value remain the same however in response to feedback from audit more flexibility to utilise these grants has been implemented.

Single flexible use additional preparation fee

The conference fees are no longer listed as a separate item on the proforma account. The additional preparation fee can be utilised by the solicitor/counsel for preparation including conferences in a flexible way to support the conduct of the individual matter. On audit, compliance with the criteria and evidence of preparation, based on the work undertaken up to the value allowed will be assessed.

Expanded range of grants

In addition to the current grants of aid for solicitor and counsel for complex committals or matters prepared for trial new grants are available to deal with complex plea matters in the higher courts and for solicitor only committals where the criteria are met. The GOL page sets out the grants by court/case type as follows:

  • Extraordinary case in Magistrates/Children’s Court (solicitor only)
  • Extraordinary case in Magistrates/Children’s Court (solicitor and counsel)
  • Extraordinary case in District Court – plea (solicitor and counsel)
  • Extraordinary case in District Court – trial (solicitor and counsel)
  • Extraordinary case in Supreme Court – plea (solicitor and counsel)

Note: All Supreme Court trial matters are automatically deemed extraordinary and no specific extraordinary application request is required.

The new grants will be available from Monday, 9 March 2015 and further information regarding the criteria and grants is available in the grants handbook.

For any questions please contact your grants officer.


3 March 2015 Today's CPD session rescheduled to 24 March 2015
 

Due to unforseen circumstances, today's CPD session — Caselaw: the good, the bad and the ugly has been rescheduled to Tuesday, 24 March 2015.

We apologise for any inconvenience.


2 March 2015 Grants Online outage— Sunday, 8 March — 10am to 12pm
 

Grants Online will be unavailable on Sunday, 8 March between 10am and 12pm.

We apologise for any inconvenience.


2 March 2015

Family law property decisions database

 

Our Family law property decisions database is now available under the 'Information resources' menu.

It lists relevant property decisions from the Family Court, the Full Court and the Federal Circuit Court from 1 January 2014 and provides links to the full text of the decisions.

As well as bibliographic information (Court, Judge, parties, decision date etc.), each judgment can be searched by keywords and issues and by relationship criteria including:

  • length of relationship
  • number of children
  • size of asset pool and more.

Use the 'help with this infobase' link for more information about searching the database effectively.


2 March 2015

Updated search forms for Information resources

 

From Monday, 2 March 2015 you will notice some improvements to the Information resources search forms. The new forms are a ‘responsive design’ so they will automatically resize on smaller screens such as laptops or tablets. We’ve also made the comparable sentences search form simpler.

The improved design fixes a few bugs and improves performance. The affected databases include:

  • Comparable sentences
  • Continuing Professional Development resources
  • Criminal judgments
  • Domestic violence key judgments
  • Family law notes
  • People smuggling judgments
  • Social security appeals key decisions
  • new Family law property decisions.

23 January 2015

Grants Online unavailable from 5:30pm Friday, 6 February 2015 to 2pm (approx.) Saturday, 7 February 2015

 

Due to a power shutdown to complete necessary building works in Legal Aid Queensland’s head office Grants Online and the Legal Aid Queensland website will be unavailable from 5.30pm Friday, 6 February to approx. 2pm Saturday, 7 February 2014.

All preferred suppliers will need to be logged off by 5.30pm Friday, 6 February.  No services will be available during this outage period.

Services are expected to be restored by 2pm Saturday, 7 February—however, this may be subject to change based on the work required to be completed.
 
Thank you for your support and cooperation.


19 January 2015

Preferred supplier agreements

 

Current preferred supplier agreements (PDF, 648KB) expire on 31 July 2015. New agreements will be entered into from 1 August 2015. We have not identified any major changes to the current agreement and envisage any changes made for the new agreement will be minor.

If you have any suggestions or feedback about the agreement’s content, please email Erin Ames by Monday, 16 February 2015.


15 January 2015 Legal Aid Queensland survey—communicating with preferred suppliers
 

Legal Aid Queensland is seeking feedback from our preferred supplier business partners about how we communicate with you.  We would appreciate if you could take a couple of minutes to complete this short survey by Monday, 16 February 2015.


12 January 2015

Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre (BWCC) videoconference—now available

 

The video conferencing facilities at the Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre (BWCC) are now back in operation and our videoconferencing team are taking bookings.  The videoconference booking officer can be contacted on (07) 3238 3353 .

Please find attached an updated correctional centre videoconferencing timetable (PDF, 139KB) for your information.


12 January 2015 Family Law Panel interpretation
 

Please be advised that new referrals for domestic violence or child protection matters will only be made to firms on these specific panels. For firms on the family law panel only, where your firm is undertaking a family law matter and there is a related domestic violence or child protection matter then these will continue to be referred to you.


5 January 2015

Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre (BWCC) videoconference—unavailable until further notice

 

Further to our previous notices, Legal Aid Queensland has been advised that the renovations for the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre (BWCC) have been further delayed and videoconference facilities will be unavailable until further notice.

The BWCC is encouraging face-to-face visits as an alternative.

Limited phone conferences are available but bookings will operate on a 'first in best dressed' basis. To book a telephone conference, send a fax request to 07 3271 8964 addressed to ‘Visits staff’. Your request should include as many conference time options as possible so that the BWCC can try and accommodate your request.


18 December 2014 Legal Aid Queensland office closures—Wednesday, 24 December 2014 to Friday, 2 January 2015
 

Legal Aid Queensland’s regional offices will be closed from 2pm Wednesday, 24 December 2014 and will reopen at 8.30am Friday, 2 January 2015.

The Brisbane office (44 Herschel Street) front counter will be closed from 2pm Wednesday, 24 December 2014 and will reopen at 8.30am Friday, 2 January 2015.

Our legal information line (1300 65 11 88) will be open until 5pm Wednesday, 24 December 2014—reopening 8.30am, Friday 2 January 2015.


18 December 2014 Separate Representative Training—2015
 

Legal Aid Queensland is calling for expressions of interest to attend Separate Representative Training in Brisbane on 23 and 24 February 2015.

For more information please see the training flyer (.DOC, 50KB) and registration form (.DOC, 43KB).

For more information contact Erin Ames via email or phone 07 3247 0380


12 December 2014 Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre (BWCC) videoconferencing—now unavailable until end December 2014
 

Legal Aid Queensland has been advised that the renovations of Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre (BWCC) has been delayed. Videoconference facilities were expected to resume on Monday, 15 December 2014 but will now not be available until the end of December 2014.

BWCC is encouraging face-to-face visits during this period as an alternative.

Limited telephone conferences are available but bookings will operate on a 'first in best dressed' basis. To book a telephone conference, send a fax request to 07 3271 8964 addressed to ‘Visits Staff’. Your request should provide as many conference time options as possible so that BWCC can try and accommodate your request.


8 December 2014

Draft best practice guidelines for working with children and young people— feedback welcome

 

Legal Aid Queensland is committed to continually improving the quality of our legal services to financially disadvantaged Queenslanders. We want to ensure our service response to clients with special needs is respectful, appropriate and effective.

Legal Aid Queensland has already developed best practice guidelines for working with clients from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, and also for working with women experiencing domestic and sexual violence.

We are currently working on developing best practice guidelines for working with children and young people. The guidelines are focused on helping to ensure everyone who works with children and young people provides services that are high quality, appropriate and respectful.

The guidelines will apply to all Legal Aid Queensland staff and will be included in our Case Management Standards—so they will also apply to preferred suppliers.

Attached are a draft copy of the guidelines (PDF, 239KB) and the accompanying framework (PDF, 200KB), which provides some background and context for the guidelines.

Legal Aid Queensland intends to launch these documents in early in 2015.

Your feedback is welcome and can be provided directly by email to Catherine Moynihan (Principal Project Officer).

The deadline for feedback is: Friday, 23 January 2015.


3 December 2014 Last legal payment run for the 2014 calendar year
 

Due to office closures during the Christmas/New Year period, the last legal payment for this year will be on Tuesday, 23 December 2014.

All invoices due up to 30 December 2014 will be paid on this day.

To be paid on the 23 December 2014, all invoices must be submitted by Friday 12 December 2014 so that grants officers can assess accounts by Tuesday 16 December 2014.

The first payment run for 2015 will be on Tuesday, 6 January 2015.


26 November 2014

Changes to process for issuing retrospective contribution tax invoice notice to practitioners

 

The way that LAQ issues retrospective contribution tax invoices has changed.

When a retrospective contribution tax invoice is issued by your grants officer, you will receive a generated email with steps on how to access the invoice. The invoice will be available through the Grants Online electronic profile.

Download detailed instructions on how to view the tax invoice (PDF, 472KB).

Please note: there are no changes to the policy with respect to the imposition and calculation of retrospective contributions.


25 November 2014 Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre (BWCC) videoconferences unavailable 2-12 December 2014
 

The Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre (BWCC) have advised that their video conference facilities will be unavailable for use during renovations from Tuesday, 2 December until Friday, 12 December 2014.

The BWCC is encouraging face-to-face visits during this period as an alternative.

Limited phone conferences are available, but bookings will operate on a 'first-in-best-dressed' basis. To book a telephone conference - send a fax request to 07 3271 8964 addressed to 'Visits staff'. Your request should include as many conference time options as possible so that the BWCC can try to accommodate your request.

Legal Aid Queensland videoconferencing staff will be in contact with practitioners who have existing BWCC videoconferences booked during this period to organise an alternative form of contact with their clients.

Please find attached an updated Queensland Correctional Centre videoconferencing timetable (PDF, 138KB) for your information.


10 November 2014 G20 public holiday
 

Due to the G20 public holiday the following Legal Aid Queensland offices will be closed on Friday, 14 November 2014:

  • Brisbane—44 Herschel Street, Brisbane
  • Inala—Level 1, Inala Commonwealth Building, 20 Wirraway Parade, Inala.

These offices will reopen for business as usual on Monday, 17 November 2014.

All other Legal Aid Queensland offices will be open for business as usual.


21 October 2014 Invitation to tender for providing duty layer services to Caboolture Magistrates Court
 

Invitations to tender for providing duty lawyer services to Caboolture Magistrates court are sought from firm/practitioners for the period of 1 January to 31 December 2015.

Attached are invitation to tender documents which contain information relating to terms of service provision and are provided to be used by pracitioners submitting a bid.

The statistical data provided was derived from data contained in session reports lodged by firms/practitioners in the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.

Any queries relating to the information provided should be raised with John Dean on 07 3238 3461.

Tenders close 5pm Friday, 18 November. All tenders must be received by this time.


30 September 2014 Grants Online unavailable—5.30pm, Friday 24 October 2014 to 6am Monday, 27 October 2014
 

Due to building works and an electrical shutdown in LAQ's head office, the Legal Aid website and Grants Online will be unavailable between 5.30pm Friday, 24 October to 6am Monday 27 October 2014.

This outage is required to allow re-cabling work to be completed in the head office.

All preferred suppliers need to save all applications and log off from Grants Online by 5.30pm Friday, 24 October. Services are expected to be restored from 6am on Monday, 27 October.

Thank you in advance for your support and cooperation.

Please contact the helpdesk for any questions.


23 September 2014

Invitation to tender for providing duty lawyer services for Beenleigh, Cairns, Cleveland, Holland Park, Ipswich, Mitchell, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe, Richlands, Sandgate, Southport and Toowoomba Magistrates courts

 

Invitations to tender for providing duty lawyer services for the above courts are sought from firms/practitioners for the period 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2015.

Attached are invitation to tender documents which contain information relating to terms of service provision and are provided to be used by practitioners submitting a bid:

The statistical data provided was derived from data contained in session reports lodged by firms/practitioners in the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.

Any queries relating to the information provided should be raised with John Dean on 07 3238 3461.

Tenders close 5pm 22 October 2014. All tenders must be received by this time.

Please note: an invitation to tender for Caboolture magistrates courts will be published early in October 2014.


1 September 2014 CPPAQ—2014 Leneen Forde public address—registrations now open
 

Registrations are now open for the 2014 Leneen Forde public address.

The Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland (CPPAQ) aims to improve interdisciplinary professional collaboration in the
child protection system in Queensland. This event is named in honour of Ms Leneen Forde AO who led the 1999 Inquiry into Abuse of
Children in Queensland Institutions.

Speaker: Associate Professor Judy Cashmore

Topic: Making decisions in children's matters: The role of social science evidence and children's view

Venue: Banco Court, Supreme Court of Queensland, 415 George Street
Date: Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Time: Registration: 5.30pm—Address: 6-7pm—Reception 7-8pm
Cost: Free for members of $30 for non-members
RSVP: Friday, 12 September 2014

For more information and registration visit the website.


5 August 2014 Changes to the Case Management Standards Family Law
 

The Case Management Standards Family Law have been reviewed and an updated version is now available. The new Case Management Standards incorporate the changes to the Family Law Act in 2012 and the 2012 amendments to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. The annexures have been reviewed and streamlined.

The standards represent the work expected to be undertaken in representing a client or when acting as an ICL or separate representative. The objective of these standards is to help lawyers achieve efficient and effective practice. Preferred Suppliers are required to comply with Legal Aid Queensland's Practice and Case Management Standards. If you undertake legal aid work in family law, domestic violence or child protection matters, Legal Aid Queensland asks that you review the new version of the Case Management Standards, which are available electronically at https://elo.legalaid.qld.gov.au/policiesandstandards/managementstandards/


4 August 2014 Grants Online unavailable—5.30pm Friday, 8 August to 12 noon Sunday, 10 August 2014
 

Due to building works and an electrical shutdown in LAQ's head office, the Legal Aid Queensland website and Grants Online will be unavailable between 5.30pm Friday, 8 August to 12 noon Sunday, 10 August 2014.

All preferred suppliers need to log off Grants Online by 5.30pm Friday, 8 August. Services are expected to be restored from 12 noon Sunday, 10 August.

Thank you for your support and cooperation.

Please contact the helpdesk for any questions.


25 June 2014 Changes to conflict of interest advices
 

The process for preferred suppliers providing legal advice to Legal Aid Queensland clients where there is a conflict interest with our in-house lawyers has changed.

Currently, when a conflict of interest is identified when a client is seeking legal advice, Legal Aid Queensland arranges a referral for the client to receive independent legal advice from one our preferred suppliers.

The client is provided with a letter to present to the Legal Aid Queensland preferred supplier, which acts as payment for the legal advice consultation provided by the preferred supplier. At the moment, these letters can be used any time after they have been issued.

From 24 June 2014, all newly issued conflict letters provided to clients will expire 60 days after the date they are issued. If the advice is not provided before the expiry date, Legal Aid Queensland will not pay for the legal advice consultation. Please check all conflict letters for an expiry date before providing legal advice.

Conflict letters issued prior to this date without an expiry date will continue to be honoured.

Clients who are unable to obtain legal advice before the expiry date on the conflict letter should be referred back to Legal Aid Queensland to request the issue of a new conflict letter.


19 June 2014 Aligning family law grants of aid to court process—consultation paper—June 2014
 

Legal Aid Queensland is reviewing its family law grants of aid, and invites you to respond to the Aligning family law grants of aid to court process—consultation paperAligning family law grants of aid to court process—consultation paper (PDF, 716 KB)

The review’s aim is to maintain delivery of Legal Aid Queensland family law litigation services in Queensland through:

  • broadly aligning the funding arrangements to support the court process
  • improved targeting of available funding
  • reducing ‘red tape’ associated with legal aid processes while maintaining accountability
    for public funds
  • flexibility to respond to broader system changes.

How to respond

Please send your response to:

Family Law Consultation
Legal Aid Queensland
GPO Box 2449
Brisbane Qld 4001
grants@legalaid.qld.gov.au

Responses close Tuesday, 15 July 2014.


13 June 2014 Changes to new initiatives – Employment Law Pilot and Child Protection Court Based Legal Advice Pilot
 

Legal Aid Queensland has been advised by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s department that it will not be receiving the $3 million in one-off additional funding previously earmarked for 2014-15. As a result, LAQ has had to review its capacity to fund new initiatives.

Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision not to proceed with the Employment Law Pilot Program at this time and the Child Protection Court Based Legal Advice Pilot will be scaled back, operating in Cairns and Townsville only.

Thank you to all of the firms and practitioners who had expressed interest in working with us on these initiatives. If you have a question about either of the pilot programs please contact Paul Davey on 3405 0776.


13 June 2014 Legal payment run—1 July 2014
 

The finance system will be shut down for maintenance, and the payment run due Tuesday, 1 July is scheduled for Monday, 30 June. All invoices must be submitted by Tuesday, 17 June if payment is needed before 30 June. The payment run on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 will be as normal.


26 May 2014 CPD workshop: Working with Indigenous clients this Wednesday, 28 May
 

Dr Diana Eades will facilitate a special CPD workshop “Telling and retelling your story: implications for working with Indigenous clients” for solicitors and barristers.

Date: Wednesday, 28 May
Time: 1pm – 4.15pm
Venue: Ground floor auditorium, 44 Herschel Street, Brisbane
CPD points: 3 professional skills solicitors; practice management barristers
RSVP: jhanley@legalaid.qld.gov.au by COB Monday, 26 May

Workshop outline

The workshop will draw on findings of sociolinguistic research and discussions of participants’ experiences in a range of legal settings to explore:

  • how storytelling and retelling works in (i) everyday contexts and (ii) the law
  • specific cultural and communication issues in Indigenous societies
  • relevance to evaluations of credibility and reliability in the law
  • implications for lawyers working with Aboriginal/Indigenous clients.

About Dr Diana Eades

Dr Diana Eades is an Adjunct Professor and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, at the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences at the University of New England (UNE). She specialises in critical sociolinguistics, language in the legal process, and intercultural communication, particularly involving Australian Aboriginal people who speak varieties of English. She has more than 25 years experience in research, teaching and practical applications of her scholarly work.

Her previous positions include lecturer and senior lecturer at UNE, and associate professor at the University of Hawaii. Diana has an extensive publications list, which includes the 2013 book Aboriginal ways of using English (Aboriginal studies press), the 2010 textbook Sociolinguistics and the legal process (multilingual matters), the 2008 book Courtroom talk and neo-colonial control (Mouton de Gruyter), the 1992 lawyers’ handbook Aboriginal English and the Law (Queensland Law Society) and the 1995 edited book Language in evidence (New South Wales University Press).


26 May 2014 Fee increases for magistrates and district court/Childrens Court of Queensland Court time
 

The Legal Aid Queensland Board has approved an increase in standard fees for court time for committals in the magistrates court and pleas and trials in the district court and Childrens Court of Queensland.

The new fees, effective from 1 July 2014, are:

Magistrates court (court time for committal):

  • solicitor instructing — a six percent increase
    up to three hours — increase from $230 to $243
    full day — increase from $460 to $486

  • counsel court time — a 12 percent increase to match the solicitor advocate rate
    up to three hours — increase from $281 to $316
    full day — increase from $562 to $632

District court/Childrens Court of Queensland (court time at plea and trial):

  • solicitor advocate court time — a 12 percent increase
    up to three hours — increase from $353 to $396
    full day — increase from $706 to $792

  • solicitor instructing — a 12 percent increase
    up to three hours — increase from $299 to $336
    full day — increase from $598 to $672

  • counsel court time — a 12 percent increase
    up to three hours — increase from $353 to $396
    full day — increase from $706 to $792.

The Scale of fees – criminal law in the Grants Handbook will be updated from 1 July to reflect the increased rates payable.

If you have any questions about the new fees, please contact your grants officer.


26 May 2014 New family law trial checklist
 

The family law trial checklist available on grants online has been updated. This checklist will now replace the letter that was previously sent out by grants officers after they received the request for trial funding. Obtaining this information from practitioners at the time of lodging the extension request will hopefully allow for earlier assessment of these funding requests.

An electronic version of checklist can be accessed through the grants online application by selecting the extension type:

Printable merit checklist search

You can also find the checklist in Printable merit checklists > Family law > Extension family checklists.


16 May 2014 Mental Health Collaborations Fund on hold
 

Legal Aid Queensland recently announced it was seeking grant applications to the Mental Health Collaborations Fund. On Wednesday, 14 May 2014 the Commonwealth Attorney-General's department advised that an outcome of the Commonwealth budget was that Legal Aid Queensland will not receive the one-off additional funding of $3 million dollars previously proposed for 2014-15. As a consequence Legal Aid Queensland has reviewed its capacity to fund new initiatives and has the determined the Mental Health Collaborations Fund will be put on hold, effective immediately.

We will provide a further update on the status of the fund in due course. Please do not submit any applications to the fund until further notice.


9 May 2014 Child Protection Court Based Legal Advice Pilot

Expressions of interest are being sought for participation in a child protection court based legal advice pilot.

The Legal Aid Queensland Board has approved a new service delivery initiative of a pilot of a child protection court based legal advice service. The pilot has been approved for 12 months and is anticipated to commence on the 1 July 2014. The service is based on the family law duty lawyer service model and has distinct differences to the criminal law duty lawyer model.

This pilot program would involve operating a court based legal help service and at this stage it is anticipated to operate in the following locations:

  • Beenleigh
  • Brisbane
  • Caboolture
  • Cairns
  • Ipswich
  • Mackay
  • Maroochydore
  • Pine Rivers
  • Richlands
  • Rockhampton
  • Southport
  • Toowoomba
  • Townsville

The service would be provided using private legal firms to give advice to parents appearing in the court on a similar basis to the way family law duty lawyer services are provided. It is anticipated that these legal help sessions would operate for up to four hours and firms would be paid an hourly rate of $120 for their attendance at court. The duty lawyers would provide advice to the parents about the legal process, the stage of the proceedings, their responsibilities and their options for responding to the process. It is anticipated that there may also be some cases where advice is given to young people who are the subject of proceedings.

Expressions of interest are being sought from private legal firms who would be interested in participating in a roster. Firms expressing an interest should be current preferred suppliers on the child protection panel. Firms should include within their expression of interest the details of which court location they would be prepared to service, details of who within their office would be undertaking these matters and the details of each staff members experience and competence in child protection matters.

If voluminous applications are received, expressions of interest will be assessed based on experience and competence.

Please note that the commencement of this service initiative is subject to finalisation of funding arrangements for the initiative.

Please submit your expression of interest to Erin Ames, Acting Coordinator Preferred Supplier Strategy on eames@legalaid.qld.gov.au. If you have any questions please contact Erin Ames on 07 3247 0380.


9 May 2014 Head Note: Legal Aid Queensland's e-newsletter

The latest edition of Legal Aid Queensland's e-newsletter Head Note is now available online.

Subscribe and receive future editions straight to your inbox.


5 May 2014 Mental Health Collaborations Fund
 

Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) is trialling a new service — Mental Health Collaborations — to provide legal advice and representation to people on involuntary treatment orders who could benefit from the assistance of a lawyer in hearings before the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT).

LAQ is seeking grant applications from preferred suppliers and community legal centres interested in providing holistic, client-centred legal services, including liaison and referral to appropriate support services for clients, and training for lawyers to work in this jurisdiction. The service will operate from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.

Grants available under the Mental Health Collaborations Fund initiative include:

  • One grant of up to $100,000 to deliver services under this initiative in the south east Queensland region
  • Grants of up to $50,000 to deliver services under this initiative in two other Queensland regions.

The Mental Health Collaborations Fund guidelines as a PDF fileMental Health Collaborations Fund guidelines (PDF, 57 KB) contain information about the trial service and grant criteria which applicants must address in their service delivery proposals.

For more information about this initiative, contact Mary Burgess at mburgess@legalaid.qld.gov.au or on 3238 3906.

Applications close 5pm Friday, 26 May 2014. All applications must be received by this time.


2 April 2014 New Protocol for section 16(3A) of the Bail Act 1980 (Qld) and Practice Direction 21 of 2013
 

As you will be aware, Download the Show cause bail application procedure as a PDF fileMagistrates Court Practice Direction 21 of 2013 (PDF, 82 KB) (setting out procedure for bail applications where it is alleged the defendant is or has at any time been a participant in a criminal organisation) has recently been amended. The revised version removes the requirement to adjourn these matters to Brisbane Magistrates Court 20 and allows greater flexibility to hear the applications at first instance.

As a result of these changes, we have amended our internal protocol for duty lawyers reflecting these changes. The procedure and form have been added to these areas of grants online and are also available on our Duty lawyers page:


27 February 2014 Head Note: Legal Aid Queensland's e-newsletter
 

The latest edition of Legal Aid Queensland's e-newsletter Head Note is now available online.

Subscribe and receive future editions straight to your inbox.


26 February 2014 New criminal law duty lawyer accreditation resource
 

Legal Aid Queensland is producing a new criminal law duty lawyer accreditation training resource and we welcome feedback from preferred suppliers.

The DVD, which is compulsory viewing for criminal lawyers being accredited as a duty lawyer, is being updated to reflect legislative and procedural changes made since the DVD was produced in 2004.

The new resource will:

  • be available online (instead of DVD)
  • be delivered in short modules
  • feature a combination of video, voiceover and text
  • include helpful checklists displayed at the end of modules.

Please send any feedback about improvements or changes you’d like to see made to the current DVD to media@legalaid.qld.gov.au.


18 February 2014 Removal of the capping of costs for ICL files
 

Effective immediately the legal Aid Queensland Board has approved an amendment to the Grants Policy Manual that removes the limitation on costs for ICL matters (Guideline 18 - Family law cost management).

The current cap of $20,000 for ICL’s no longer applies. This aligns LAQ with all other legal aid jurisdictions in Australia.

The current cost limit of $13,000 and the requirement for extension of the cap to be considered by a grants manager continues to apply to all party files.

Revised Commonwealth Family Law Guideline 18.

Additional Family Group Meetings in Child Protection proceedings

Effective from 17/02/2014 the Legal Aid Queensland Board approved an amendment to Guideline 1 – Child Protection in the Grants Policy Manual.

Previously Grants officers were able to issue grants of aid for initial and final family group meetings within proceedings and an annual review family group meeting following proceedings to assist disadvantaged clients to communicate with the Department.

This amendment allows grants officers to issue funding for additional family group meetings if they are ordered by the Court in the course of proceedings.  Grants of aid for family group meetings for the purposes of review (after an order is made) can be issued in accordance with legislative requirements.

Revised State Civil Law Guideline 1.

Fee increases for barristers in child protection matters

The Legal Aid Queensland Board has approved an increase in the fees paid to barristers in child protection matters.

Fees for barristers in child protection contested hearings and appeals have been increased for all grants of aid issued on or after 17 February 2014. The new fees align with the family law scale of fees as follows:

Description

Fees prior to 17/02/2014

Fees effective 17/02/2014

Contested Hearing Day 1 prepare and appear (inc conference)

      $815

 $1515

Additional days of contested hearing

 $630

 $1145

Appeal Hearing Day 1 (inc conference)

 $1031

 $1046

Additional days of appeal

 $756

 $861

The Scale of fees – civil law (PDF, 187 KB) in the Grants Handbook has been updated to reflect the increased rates payable.

If you have any queries regarding operation of the revised policies or new fees please contact your grants officer.


11 February 2013 Attention Preferred Suppliers: Criminal and family law in-house e-lodgement and audit pilot
 

2014 pilot — streamlining assessments of applications for aid

LAQ is committed to improving our business processes for preferred supplier law firms and reducing red tape.

In 2013, we pursued these goals through a range of initiatives such as:

  • enabling electronic attachments of documents in Grants Online
  • implementing ability to save on each page of a Grants Online application
  • improving checklists and grants process for criminal law summary matters
  • introducing outcomes based invoicing.

In addition to these business improvement initiatives, we have also increased fees payable for duty lawyers, family law and other Commonwealth law matters, domestic violence, child protection and standard criminal law matters since July 2012.

From February 2014, LAQ will begin a pilot designed to assess the viability of front end self assessment by lawyers in low risk matters – coupled with increased back end assessment through retrospective audit. The pilot aims to not only explore ways to reduce red tape, but also to encourage lawyers to e-lodge applications through Grants Online.

The pilot will allow Brisbane and regional-based in-house criminal and family lawyers to assess , in line with existing guidelines, whether their applications for grants of aid in the categories below satisfy the relevant criteria. Once an in-house lawyer has so assessed their own application, grants officers will rely upon that assessment to determine the application.

Criminal law

  • plea of guilty grants of aid (magistrates court) including e-lodging paper applications received directly from clients
  • summary trial grants of aid (solicitor only) extension of an existing matter

Family law

  • all independent children’s lawyer and separate representative matter extensions and disbursements, following initial file allocation from Grants.

At the same time, we will implement an enhanced audit process to review in-house lawyers’ assessments to ensure compliance with our grants decision making criteria.

Please note that the pilot does not involve in-house lawyers assessing the applications for grants of aid by preferred suppliers. Preferred suppliers' applications for grants of aid will continue to be assessed by grants officers.

We are piloting this process with in-house lawyers in the first instance to assess the operational and financial impacts of this new approach. If the pilot is successful, we will consider expanding the self assessment process to preferred suppliers in 2015.

Legal Aid New South Wales introduced a similar process for criminal law pleas of guilty and summary trials in October 2013.


23 January 2014 New Show cause bail application procedure and Section 16(3A) bail form
 

Duty lawyers can now download our Section 16(3A) bail form and Show cause bail application procedure in line with section 16(3A) of the Bail Act 1980 (Qld) and Practice Direction 21 of 2013.

The form and procedure have been developed to address some operational issues since Practice Direction 21 of 2013, which centralises these types of bail applications (ie where it is alleged the defendant is or has at any time been a participant in a criminal organisation) in Brisbane Magistrates Court 20. This has been necessary given there is currently no duty lawyer service for these matters and is unlikely to be one in the future, and the short timeframes to list mentions and applications in Court 20.

The procedures aims to explain the process for state-wide legal aid applications and allocating lawyers (where legal aid is granted) to prepare and appear on the first mention and bail application hearing. This procedure does not affect how any substantive charges are considered and processed.

The procedure and form have been added to these areas of grants online and are also available on our Duty lawyers page:

If you need more information about this process, contact Legal Aid Queensland’s Magistrates Court assistant director on (07) 3238 3276.


22 January 2014 Employment law grants of aid coming
 

The Commonwealth Government has provided additional funds to Legal Aid Queensland to support a number of federal initiatives including the introduction of new grants of aid for employment law. Legal Aid Queensland may make a grant of legal assistance for certain types of federal employment matters involving unfair dismissal proceedings under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and certain proceedings for contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). It is anticipated that the new grants of aid will be available from early February 2014. Initially matters will be dealt with by in-house lawyers, however we are seeking your feedback as to whether you would be interested in obtaining preferred supplier status on an employment law panel to be able to attend on these matters.

If your practice is interested in being included on an employment law panel, please provide the details of your legal practice to Erin Ames, Preferred Supplier Strategy acting coordinator.

When responses are received a decision will be made about creating an employment law panel and if approved details will be provided to all firms outlining the selection criteria to be addressed.

If you have any questions please contact Erin Ames, (07) 3247 0380.


13 January 2014 Fee increases for child protection matters
 

The Legal Aid Queensland Board has approved an increase in fees paid to solicitors and barristers in child protection matters.

Fees will be increased by 5% for grants of aid issued on or after 13 January 2014.

The current solicitor hourly rate of $120 per hour will increase to $126 per hour.

The barrister fee on brief rate for hearing will be increased by 5% from $600 to $630.

Barrister conference/hourly reading fee will not increase and remains at the current rate of $185 per hour.

The Scale of fees – civil law (PDF, 187 KB) in the Grants Handbook has been updated to reflect the increased rates payable.

If you have any queries regarding operation of the new fees please contact your grants officer.


6 January 2014 Department of Justice and Attorney-General — court ordered child protection guidelines and conference model publications now available
 

On 1 July 2013, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s Dispute Resolution Branch undertook responsibility of facilitating child protection conferences. The Child Protection Conferencing Unit at the Dispute Resolution Branch have recently published Download the guidelines as a Word documentCourt Ordered Child Protection Conference Guidelines (DOC, 127 KB) and Download the outline of model as a Word documentCourt Ordered Child Protection Conference Outline of Model (DOC, 70 KB).

Please note you may experience some delays when opening these documents in your web browser, but they do load eventually.


16 December 2013 Improving criminal law grants of aid – new and increased fees and revised summary process
 

As previously advised, on 24 October 2013 the LAQ board approved a number of fee increases for criminal law matters and a revised process for grants of aid in summary matters as follows:

Revised Process for Summary Matters

  • Applications for all summary matters will be submitted through a single application request which replaces the previous checklists for Magistrates and Children’s Court matters. The new request forms can be accessed through Grants online.
  • The application request addresses both of the guidelines for summary proceedings (Guideline 2 – Summary Trial and Guideline 3 – Summary Plea). There have been no changes to these guidelines.
  • For all approvals a new grant of aid will issue (MG1) which is the fixed fee grant for plea but may also be used as initial preparation for trial where a subsequent extension for trial issues.
  • Additional grants will continue to be available for matters involving more than 20 charges, an interpreter, approved travel or approved reports.
  • An extension for trial may be requested after initial preparation indicates the summary trial guidelines have been met.

Implementation of a fixed fee plea in the Magistrates and Children’s Courts

  • The fixed fee for pleas of guilty is $550 for professional fees and $25 for sundry costs.
  • The requirement to itemise sundry disbursements has been dispensed with and the fixed sundry amount can be claimed on submission of the account.
  • The full fixed fee is payable where the matter is finalised or an extension to trial is approved.
  • A reduced fixed fee is payable where the matter cannot be finalised for one of the reasons detailed in the outcome section of the proforma invoice.
  • A full grant can be sought for each new matter. The definition of a new matter is accessible from the application request or the Grants Handbook. The previous multiple grants of aid policy and co-accused policy no longer apply to summary matters.

Summary trial increased fees and fee arrangements

  • In addition to the initial fixed fee grant further preparation and attendance amounts are payable for trial as detailed on the proforma account.
  • Where the solicitor identifies that the summary trial guidelines may be met an extension of aid is requested. Three extension requests are available through Grants online for the trial extension. (The following fees are in addition to the initial fixed fee grant of $575)
    • Solicitor only – the solicitor is to conduct the trial – if approved an invoice issues to the solicitor. ($832 + $25)
    • Counsel only – The solicitor elects to share the standard solicitor fee with counsel – an invoice issues to the firm for redirection to counsel. ($832 + $25)
    • Solicitor instructing counsel – this grant of aid will issue in circumstances where the counsel guidelines are met – invoices issue for both solicitor ($635 + $25) and counsel ($1,200).
  • Replacement counsel grants are only available where LAQ grants aid for a solicitor to instruct counsel and the counsel is subsequently unavailable. Replacement counsel grants are not available under the counsel only option.
  • Where a solicitor decides to enter into an arrangement with counsel after issue of a solicitor only grant these arrangements are managed by the solicitor and counsel. LAQ will not issue a revise grant.

Increased preparation fees for standard District Court and CCQ Trials.

  • The standard preparation fee for stage 2 trial grants will be doubled from $232 to $464 for solicitor and from $185 to $370 for counsel. Solicitors must be able to certify that they hold signed instructions from their client to proceed to trial when submitting an extension request for trial.

The Grants Handbook has been updated to incorporate the changes in process and fees

If you have any queries in relation to the new fees or processes please contact your grants officer.


3 December 2013 Expansion of the guidelines relating to DRS conferences
 

On 21 November the Board approved a pilot expansion of the guidelines relating to DRS conferences. The Board determined to make funding available for an additional 75 conferences a month for vulnerable clients where there is a genuine need for orders in order to provide some certainty regarding ongoing parenting arrangements.

The grants handbook has been updated to reflect the new criteria and definitions etc, which can be accessed via the following links:

These amended guidelines relate to conferences only. There has been no change to the criteria applied for litigation grants.

If you have any queries regarding the operation of these revised guidelines for conferences please contact your grants officer who will be able to assist.


2 December 2013 Last legal payment run for calendar year 2013
 

Due to office closure, the last legal payment for this year will be on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2013 and all invoices due up to 31 December 2013 will be paid on this day. To be paid on 24 December 2013, all invoices must be submitted by Tuesday, 17 December 2013.

The first payment run for 2014 will be on 7 January 2014.


2 December 2013 Internet Explorer — activating compatibility mode
 

There has recently been an update released by Microsoft for the Internet Explorer program which has caused some issues for those of you using our Grants Online program.

If you are experiencing any of the issues listed below, please follow the steps in the attached (PDF, 59 KB).

Known issues fixed with these steps:

  • Grants Online menu not selectable.
  • You are asked to fill in information not applicable to your selection(s) on the form.
  • You are not given the option to fill in fields that you need to fill in.

Please note:

  • Grants Online is only supported on Windows PCs, with Internet Explorer as the internet browser.
  • If you have previously set compatibility mode on and are experiencing these issues again, please follow the instructions attached as the setting may have been cleared by the recent (and potentially future) updates.

29 November 2013 Child protection fee increase – effective w/c 13 January 2014
 

The Legal Aid Queensland Board has approved a five percent increase in child protection fees.

Fees will increase from $120 an hour to $126 an hour from the week beginning 13 January 2014, bringing them into line with the current family law fee.


1 November 2013 Improving criminal law grants of aid – new and increased fees
 

On 24 October 2013 the Legal Aid Queensland board approved a number of fee increases for criminal law matters as well as other improvements to criminal law grants of aid as follows:

  • fixed fee Magistrates/Children’s Court pleas of guilty - the fixed fee for Magistrates/Children’s Court pleas of guilty will be $575. Additional grants will continue to be available for matters involving more than 20 charges, an interpreter, approved travel or approved reports. Details are annexed as Attachment A – Fixed Fee Plea (PDF, 94 KB).
  • increased standard preparation fees for summary trials – the new fee structure will result in an increased fee commitment of 24% for solicitor only summary trials, a 7% increase for solicitors where counsel is briefed for trial and a 35% increased fee to counsel. Details are annexed as Attachment B – Revised summary trial fees (PDF, 94 KB).
  • increased standard preparation fees for District Court/Children’s Court of Queensland trials - the standard preparation fee for stage 2 trial grants will be doubled from $232 to $464 for solicitor and from $185 to $370 for counsel. Details are annexed as Attachment C – District Court and Children's Court of Queensland Trial standard preparation fees (PDF, 30 KB).

To reduce red tape and streamline the administration of grants of aid, LAQ will also implement a single application process for summary matters. Under the new process the initial fee will be the above fixed fee of $575. Additional fees will be available for matters that are approved for trial funding. Details of the revised process are annexed as Attachment D – Revised process for management of summary matters (PDF, 25 KB).

LAQ has configured the new streamlined process to enable direct payment to counsel of a proposed new standard fee for counsel of $832 to appear in a summary trial where a solicitor chooses to brief counsel for this purpose from within a standard solicitor only fee structure. However, prior to implementing this proposal, LAQ will seek further feedback from stakeholders.

LAQ aims to commence the new fees and application process on 16 December 2013.


25 October 2013 Grants Online shut down
 

Access to all LAQ IT systems and services will be unavailable from 6pm Friday, 1 November 2013 to 6am Monday, 4 November 2013 as we will be undertaking a major upgrade of all telecommunications cabling. During this time there will be no access to Grants Online.

We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.


21 October 2013 New forms added to online precedents
 

Two new forms have been added to Online precedent documents > Criminal Law > Court Memo:


25 September 2013

Invitation to tender for criminal law duty lawyer services at Beenleigh, Caboolture, Cairns, Cleveland, Holland Park, Ipswich, Mitchell, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe, Richlands, Roma, Sandgate, Southport and Toowoomba Magistrates Courts

 

Invitations to tender for providing duty lawyer service delivery at the above courts are requested from practitioners from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014.

Attached are invitation to tender documents which contain information relating to terms of service provision and are provided to be used by practitioners submitting a bid:

The statistical data provided was derived from data contained in session reports lodged by duty lawyers in the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.

Any queries relating to the information provided should be raised with John Dean on 07 3238 3461.

Practitioners should note, tenders close 5pm 24 October 2013. All tenders must be received by this time.


29 August 2013

Legal Aid Queensland list update

 

A number of the lists maintained by Legal Aid Queensland are being reviewed and professionals who meet the selection criteria are invited to obtain a copy of the application guidelines and contract.

Professionals currently on the list will be sent a copy of the guidelines and new contract.

A brief overview of the selection criteria are listed below.

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs) must meet the following minimum guidelines to chair legal aid family mediations and provide proof with their application:

  1. A degree in law or social work or psychology and be a member of the relevant professional organisation,
  2. A minimum of three years experience in family law or child protection matters,
  3. Final Registration as an FDRP with the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department,
  4. The names of at least two referees,
  5. Must demonstrate a sound knowledge of the conference model, Legal Aid Queensland’s procedure and dispute resolution processes and standards,
  6. The applicant must demonstrate well developed communication and interpersonal skills, and
  7. Must have a functioning telephone and computer facilities for communication and electronic lodgement of accounts with Legal Aid Queensland and business premises which allow for secure storage of records.

If required, the applicant must attend an interview with the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner Suitability Assessment committee.

All applications will be considered in light of organisational and regional needs and the placement on a list does not constitute an assurance that Legal Aid Queensland will provide a minimum, or any, legal aid work to the applicant.

Arbitrator

Arbitrators must meet the following minimum standards:

  1. The applicant must have been admitted as a legal practitioner and must hold an unrestricted practicing certificate.
  2. The applicant must either:
    1. hold specialist accreditation in the area of family law with the Queensland Law Society; or
    2. have practiced as a legal practitioner in family law for at least five years and have conducted at least 25% of work done each year in family law matters.
  3. The applicant must have successfully completed a specialist arbitration training course conducted by a tertiary institution or a professional association of arbitrators.
  4. The applicant must be included on the list of legal practitioners who provide arbitration services under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) as amended maintained by the Law Council of Australia.
  5. The applicant must demonstrate their:
    1. participation or attendance at specialist arbitration training conducted by a tertiary institution or professional association no earlier than 1 October 1998; or
    2. experience as an arbitrator in family law arbitrations.

For a copy of the guidelines and application or for further information about the process or requirements of an FDRP or Arbitrator please contact:

Toni Bell, Coordinator, Dispute Resolution Services, Legal Aid Queensland, GPO Box 2449 Brisbane 4001, telephone (07) 3405 0771.


26 August 2013

Improving criminal law grants of aid

 

On Thursday, 22 August the LAQ board met to consider the stakeholder feedback on the consultation paper "Improving criminal law grants of aid". Also considered were interim strategies to manage increasing expenditure on expensive case packages.

The chair of the LAQ board has written to the President of the Bar Association of Queensland and the President of the Queensland Law Society to advise the outcomes of the meeting. The board's decisions are set out below.

In relation to the matters canvassed in the consultation paper, the board decided to proceed with the following:

  1. A fixed fee plea of guilty in the Magistrates Court, including a standard disbursement fee. LAQ will not proceed with a fixed plea of guilty in the higher courts at this time. Standard disbursement fees for other grants of aid will be pursued incrementally as new grants of aid are developed.
  2. Increased standard preparation fee for summary trials. Also, for summary trials, specifying a standard fee for counsel to appear on trial where a solicitor chooses to brief counsel for this purpose within the approved standard fee.
  3. Increased standard preparation fees for District Court trial matter.
  4. Adopting categories of standard fees to address the purchase of different levels of preparation required in higher court matters.
  5. Develop alternatives to limit the costs payable on transfer of solicitor/counsel for non-standard cases.
  6. Explore the implementation of interim payment of preparation fees in non-standard matters.
  7. Case plans to support negotiation for funding of non-standard cases.

In relation to Items 1 to 3 above, LAQ will develop options for consultation by October 2013, with the aim of finalising options for implementation by early 2014.

In relation to Items 4 to 6 above, LAQ will develop options for consultation by November 2013, with the aim of finalising options for implementation by mid 2014.

Item 7 above will be implemented immediately initially through a Excel iconrevised worksheet.

The board has requested further investigation of the following matters:

  • Alternative arrangements for payment of counsel on circuits. The board requested that LAQ seek a cost/benefit analysis from KPMG in relation to the alternative arrangements set out in the consultation paper, as the basis for further consultation on this issue.
  • Developing panels for solicitors and barristers in expensive criminal law matters.
  • Application of fixed fees to other matters.
  • Risks and benefits of establishing a “fast track” system for approval of aid applications.

The board decided not to proceed with the following ideas raised in the consultation paper:

  • Implementation of single advocate grants that allow the solicitor to determine who will undertaken the appearance on a plea of guilty in the higher courts.
  • Imposition of a cap on the maximum allocation of matters to a firm or counsel.

The board also considered interim strategies to contain increasing growth in expensive case expenditure.

While the consultation paper stated that expenditure on expensive cases could be as high as $14M in 2012-13, the actual expenditure was $15.268M. As a consequence, LAQ’s external expenditure on crime in 2012-13 was approximately $1M over budget. The upward trend in expenditure on expensive cases has not abated in 2013-14 – in July 2013, expenditure on expensive cases was $1.591M, which was almost $0.5M over budget.

The board expressed confidence that adopting categories of standard fees to address the purchase of different levels of preparation required in higher court matters (Item 3 above) will satisfactorily address this problem in the longer term.

However, the board also considered it necessary, in pursuit of our objective of financial sustainability, to approve interim strategies to restrain the continuing growth in expensive cases for the remainder of 2013-14. The board's goal in doing so is not to spend less than our allocated budget for expenditure on criminal law matters, but merely to ensure that our expenditure remains within budget.

The key interim strategies approved by the board are:

  • where a matter has been funded as an expensive case for full committal proceedings, limited additional preparation fees will only be allowed for higher court proceedings to deal with committal transcripts, additional material and a modest refresher fee where necessary;
  • when developing an expensive case preparation fee package, distinguishing between the current perusal rate and a new lower scanning rate for certain material;
  • requiring expensive case plans to include proposals about how value for money will be achieved in the briefing and preparation processes.
  • increasing the volume threshold for expensive cases to 2500 pages, and the days of trial threshold to 15 days. Extraordinary grants will be available for cases that are between 1000 pages and 2500 pages.
  • adopting a value for money approach to expensive cases that ensures that expenditure on expensive cases remains within available funding.

The above interim strategies will be implemented from Monday 26 August, including for those extraordinary grants of aid and expensive case preparation packages not yet finalised.

Further information about the revised guidelines and application arrangements can be accessed from the Grants Handbook.


30 July 2013 Grants Online changes
 

A new release of Grants Online will become operational on Monday, 5 August 2013.

Improvements to the selection of criminal law charges available on Grants Online

Criminal law charges in Grants Online are currently entered as free text.

The inconsistencies that come with this practice has lead to suboptimal communications to clients regarding their grants of aid.

An updated list of criminal law charges will be available from 5 August 2013 within Grants Online as a standardised drop down picklist. You will be able to select relevant charges when lodging an application for aid and be sure of what is being communicated to clients.

A comprehensive list of relevant charges/offences have been derived for both State and Commonwealth jurisdictions in line with national standards. Along with the name of the charge/offence, the new facility also includes data relating to:

  • The charge specific legislation title (name of Act)
  • The specific section of the Act
  • The number of charges/offences
  • The date of the charges/offences

A step-by-step guide containing detailed information about this facility is available to PDF icondownload (PDF, 213KB).

Proof of income and assets

Currently you are required to make an assessment of the applicant’s financial eligibility from documents supplied by the applicant. Effective from 1 July 2013, electronically lodged applications for aid, may include copies of the client’s payslips, bank statements, and/or copies of their Centrelink benefits statement as attachments. Providing these attachments means that the assessing officer at LAQ will be able to readily determine the client’s financial eligibility. This will remove the current administrative burden on you to check these financial documents and avoid any subsequent issues with financial eligibility arising when files are audited.

Currently applications from self-employed, business owners or farmers are required to be lodged as paper applications with supporting documentation. From 5 August 2013, you will be able to electronically lodge these applications for aid. The attachment facility in Grants Online allows you to attach the required documentation to facilitate financial assessment and processing of the application.

The documentation requirements are unchanged:

  • individual and business tax returns for two years
  • personal and business bank statements for the last three months
  • the most recent income (or profit and loss) statement
  • the most recent balance sheet.

Outcomes on invoices

On 5 August 2013, there will be a new facility within Grants Online that will allow you to provide information about the outcome of a matter.

Who will input the outcomes?

Outcomes are linked to the proforma invoice and will be entered by solicitors and barristers who do legal aid work.

In a nutshell, the solicitor or barrister will complete the work covered under the scope of the grant of aid. The “Outcome Screen” is to be completed prior to submitting a proforma invoice.

You must provide all the information requested, otherwise payment of the account may be delayed. Providing the information requested will ensure expeditious payment of accounts and minimise discrepancies.

Why collect outcomes?

Collecting outcomes on grants of aid is important to all parties:

  • To ensure accuracy and integrity when assessing payment of accounts.
  • To accurately measure if grants of aid are achieving their desired result.
  • To build on financial accountability in relation to grants of aid.
  • To inform the various reports that LAQ provides to funding bodies.
  • To review, improve and build future funding initiatives as a result of evidence based data.

A step-by-step guide for solicitors containing detailed information about this facility is available to PDF icondownload (PDF, 101KB).

A step-by-step guide for barristers containing detailed information about this facility is available to PDF icondownload (PDF, 340KB).


5 July 2013

Attention all practitioner undertaking family law matters

 

Guidelines for court ordered child protection conferences

The Dispute Resolution Branch of the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General has taken over responsibility for convening court ordered conferences in child protection cases from 1 July 2013. The Dispute Resolution Branch has issued PDF iconguidelines for court ordered child protection conferences.

Exemption for Independent Children's Lawyers from court fees

The Family Law Amendment (Fees) Regulation 2013, which exempts independent children’s lawyers from paying court fees relating to subpoenas and interim orders, was signed by the Governor General on Friday, 28 June 2013 and has been registered with the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments. The instrument can be accessed at: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L01243.

The exemption commenced on 1 July 2013.

Guidelines for Independent Children's Lawyers

National Legal Aid has re-issued the Guidelines for Independent Children's Lawyers to take account of the amendments that were made to the Family Law Act in 2012 and the name change of the Federal Circuit Court earlier this year.

Forms 4

Notice of child abuse, family violence or risk of family violence.

In an effort to assist legal practitioners and litigants with preparing the Forms 4, Court Services at the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services have developed some resources which may assist when completing this documentation. These resources have been endorsed by the Department.

Copies of the resources developed by the Department are attached.

Copying of Subpoenaed Documents

The Brisbane Registry of the Family Law Courts has recently written about the conditions for the registry to copy subpoena material - see PDF iconletter.

Family Law Courts recovering family law fees

The Family Law Courts are implementing a process to recover outstanding setting down and hearing fees - please see PDF iconletter from the CEO of the Family Law Courts.

28 June 2013

Fee increases for Commonwealth matters

 

The Board of Legal Aid Queensland has approved an increase in Commonwealth funded family and civil law fees.

Fees will be increased by approximately 5% effective from 1 July 2013.

The effect of this increase on the solicitor hourly rate will be:

Matter type

Current hourly rate

Rate from 1 July 2013

Family law

$120

$126

Veterans

$120

$126

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

$100

$105

Proceeds of crime (Commonwealth only)

$110

$115

Discrimination (State and Commonwealth)

$105

$110

Related civil litigation

  • Magistrates Court
  • District Court
  • Supreme court
  • Federal court
  • High Court

$95
$105
$115
$110
$120

$100
$110
$121
$115
$126

The effect of this increase on the barrister fee on brief rates will be a 5% increase on all the current fee on brief rates.

Barrister conference/hourly reading fees will not increase if they are currently at $185 or more, all other conference fees will be increased by 5%.

The fees payable to psychologists and social workers to prepare family and social assessment reports and appear as expert witness at court will be increased by 5%.

Criminal law - improvements to the selection of charges available on Grants Online

Criminal law charges in Grants Online are currently entered as free text. 

An updated list of criminal law charges will be available from 5 August 2013 within Grants Online as a drop down picklist. Practitioners will be able to select the charges when lodging an application for aid.

The charges/offences online include both State and Commonwealth jurisdictions. Along with the name of the charge / offence, the Grants Online system includes will now allow you to select charges by:

  • The legislation title
  • The specific section of the Act
  • The offence title 

Proof of income and assets

Currently you are required to make an assessment of the applicant’s financial eligibility from documents supplied by the applicant. Effective from 1 July 2013, electronically lodged applications for aid, may include copies of the client's payslips, bank statements, and/or copies of their Centrelink benefits statement as attachments.

Providing these attachments means that the assessing officer at LAQ will be able to readily  determine the client’s financial eligibility. This will remove the current administrative burden on you to check these financial documents and avoid any subsequent issues with financial eligibility arising when files are audited.

Currently applications from self-employed, business owners or farmers are required to be lodged as paper applications with supporting documentation. From 5 August 2013, you will be able to electronically lodge these applications for aid. The attachment facility in Grants Online allows you to attach the required documentation to facilitate financial assessment and processing of the application.

The documentation requirements are unchanged:

  • individual and business tax returns for two years
  • personal and business bank statements for the last three months
  • the most recent income (or profit and loss) statement
  • the most recent balance sheet.

Outcomes on invoices

On 5 August 2013 we are introducing a new facility within Grants Online that will allow practitioners to provide information about the outcome of a matter.

When grants officers have this information available the need to seek further information from your office prior to certifying accounts for payment will be reduced.

Providing the information requested will ensure expeditious payment of accounts. Delays may occur where information is not provided.


21 June 2013 Consultation paper on improving criminal law grants of aid released
 

Legal Aid Queensland has released a PDF iconconsultation paper on improving criminal law grants of aid (PDF, 1.45 MB).

If you'd like to make a submission, please refer to the consultation and submission information outlined on page four of the consultation paper.


18 April 2013 New Grants Handbook
 

A significant project has been undertaken in Grants to redevelop the Grants Handbook. The handbook is a valuable resource for practitioners and clients setting out:

  • procedures on how grants policies and guidelines are applied
  • the fees and payments available to practitioners who undertake legal aid work, and
  • the rules/audit requirements associated with grants of legal assistance
  • links to other relevant information/sites.

There have been no changes to Legal Aid Queensland policies and the Grants Handbook is intended to be read in conjunction with the Grants Policy Manual. Please note that if there is an inconsistency between the Grants Policy Manual and the handbook, the Grants Policy Manual shall prevail.

The new handbook has been redeveloped in a user friendly online format with links between pages that assist with locating and viewing related information. The new handbook will be available from 18 April 2013 via Grants Online > Policies and standards > Grants Handbook, or the Legal Aid Queensland website.

If you have any feedback in relation to the redeveloped handbook please contact webteam@legalaid.qld.gov.au.


18 April 2013 Withdrawal of out of chambers and loss of practice time grants for counsel
 

Given the accessibility of counsel via mobile phones and the internet, the board of Legal Aid Queensland determined some time ago that the Out of Chambers fee is no longer payable to counsel. Further given that expensive case arrangements apply to long trials the loss of practice time grants for counsel were also discontinued. During the redevelopment of the handbook it was noted that reference to these fees had not been removed from the grants scale of fees. From 18 April 2013 grants of aid for out of chambers fees and loss of practice time will no longer be available in legally assisted matters.


15 April 2013 Grants Online release
 

These are the following changes you will see on Grants Online with this release:

  1. Duty lawyer – there are two additional question on duty lawyer for ‘matters withdrawn after negotiations’ and ‘number with disabilities’
    Please check the questions carefully if you are using the older forms to ensure the data is going against the correct question.

    Duty lawyer menu options

    LAQ recommends that duty lawyer’s start using the new form as soon as possible to ensure the data collected is compatible with the form.
  2. Duty lawyer – the ability to claim for travel time is now included on the forms. If you are authorised to claim travel complete this section as well to claim the time travelled.
  3. Applications and extensions – the notes you have entered on previous applications and extensions will be displayed in full.
  4. Electronic profile – was not displaying the clause codes issues for the approval or refusal – this has been corrected.
  5. Invoices – the firm name was not being displayed on the PDF version of the submitted invoices, this has been corrected.

Please continue to advise our helpdesk or your grants officer if you are having any issues with Grants Online.


28 February 2013 Grants Online release
 

On Monday 4 March 2013 a new release for Grants Online will become operational. While these changes are being installed, Grants Online will be offline from 12pm to 3pm on Sunday 3 March 2013.

The changes are:

Grants Online - lodging/submitting attachments
This facility enables Grants Online users to upload and attach relevant supporting documentation when lodging online applications for aid, extensions requests and accounts at the time of request, rather than using email systems or supplying additional paperwork in the mail.

A step-by-step guide containing detailed information about generally attaching a document to a request is PDF iconattached (PDF - 151 KB). A screen-by-screen guide is also PowerPoint iconattached (PPS - 656 KB). A separate guide about attaching a document to a proforma invoice is PDF iconattached (PDF - 254 KB).

Grants Online - save on each page of applications, extensions and accounts
This facility enables page by page saving, updating, retrieval and completion of Grants Online applications, extensions and accounts. It will allow users of Grants Online to save what they have entered for up to 30 days in which time they can close out of Grants Online, and come back to complete the request at a later time.

A step-by-step guide containing detailed information about this change is PDF iconattached (PDF - 85 KB). A screen-by-screen guide is also PowerPoint iconattached (PPS - 614 KB).

Grants Online – accessing attached documents
This facility enables a firm/practitioner to locate and view a document sent to them via Grants Online.

A step-by-step guide containing detailed information about this change is PDF iconattached (PDF - 261 KB). A screen-by- screen guide is also PowerPoint iconattached (PPS - 646 KB).


20 February 2013 Publication ordering temporarily unavailable
 

The state government agency that currently stores and distributes our publications is closing on 28 February and we are currently in the process of moving to a new supplier. We have been advised our online ordering system will be temporarily unavailable until 8 March 2013 during the change-over process. Thank you for your patience during this time and we will let you know as soon as the catalogue is available. If you need any publications urgently, particularly forms, please contact us at publications@legalaid.qld.gov.au and we will try to fill your order with the small amount of stock held at LAQ. All of our publications are also available to read in PDF and/or HTML format online.


19 December 2012 Criminal Law Duty Lawyer Handbook
 

Legal Aid Queensland’s Criminal Law Duty Lawyer Handbook has been updated and is now available on our website. The fifth edition of the Criminal Law Duty Lawyer Handbook was necessary due to substantial legislative changes and case law developments.

We are developing an ebook version of the handbook which will be available after user testing is completed.

If you have any questions about the handbook, please contact Miriam Moss or call 3238 3477.


21 June 2012 Payments to Preferred Suppliers and Counsel
 

Payments are made in line with the published policy of LAQ set out in the Scale of Fees as follows:

Payment of Fees

Fees are paid to solicitors and barristers by way of a weekly cheque run or by direct deposit (Electronic Fund Transfer) into the practitioner's account. We endeavour to make the payment of an account in the first EFT seven days after the lodgement of the account. Counsel's fees are paid direct to counsel by Legal Aid Queensland.

The payment system is set to reflect the policy set out in the scale of fees. Accounts are paid in the first available cheque run seven days after the date they are submitted. If an account was received less than seven days before Tuesday, it will be paid the following Tuesday. Accounts are generally certified as they come in, so in the main payment will be made between 7-14 days following receipt of the invoice.
There was a period of time where the system was not operating in line with the policy and immediate payments may have been received by some suppliers. The system now operates in line with organisational policy.

Please direct any queries to your grants officer.


25 June 2012

Duty Lawyers acting as agent in magistrates courts

Attention all preferred suppliers - criminal law

The following procedure is to be adopted by all preferred suppliers and LAQ staff solicitors.

Where a private practitioner or a member of staff of Legal Aid Queensland is acting for a defendant in criminal proceedings and all that is necessary on a particular magistrates court mention day is an appearance to:

  • apply for bail (uncontested only)
  • obtain a remand by consent
  • obtain a date for hearing

That private practitioner or staff member should contact the duty lawyer rostered (1) to appear at the relevant magistrates court on that day and arrange for the duty lawyer to appear as agent in the matter as part of the duty lawyer function.

The duty lawyer is not to be requested to appear as agent on pleas of guilty, trials, trial reviews, contested bail applications or committal proceedings. Such appearances are the responsibility of the practitioner for whom the grant of legal aid has been issued. Neither is the duty lawyer to be required to appear as agent for a solicitor acting for a non legally aided client.

A copy of the PDF icon memo (PDF 11KB) can be found in grants online by selecting:

  • 'Information Resources' drop down menu
  • scroll down and select 'Online Precedent Documents'
  • from the folders menu, select 'Criminal Law'
  • from the 'Court Memo' folder, select 'Magistrates Court Memo'.

Note:

  1. It is the responsibility of the requesting practitioner to ensure the request to act as agent is received by the duty lawyer in sufficient time to allow proper representation. To ensure this, it is recommended that all request to act as agent are sent directly to the duty lawyer and not to court registries.

1 June 2012 Invitation to apply for inclusion on Preferred Supplier List
 

Your firm is invited to apply for inclusion on the LAQ Preferred Supplier List for a three year period commencing 1 August 2012.

Please find attached the following documents:

  1. Application cover sheet (PDF 59 KB)
  2. Application guidelines (PDF 48 KB)
  3. Preferred supplier service agreement (PDF 601 KB)
  4. Case Management Standards - Civil Law (PDF 513 KB)
  5. Case Management Standards - Family Law (PDF 652 KB)
  6. Case Management Standards - Criminal Law (PDF 404 KB)
  7. Practice Management Standards (PDF 44 KB)
  8. Agreement regarding recipient-created tax invoices (PDF 82KB)

Your application to be included on the Preferred Supplier List must be received by 5pm on Friday 29 June 2012 for your firm to be considered under this process.

If you have any questions regarding the process, please contact our Preferred Supplier Strategy Coordinator, Dorothy Adams, at dadams@legalaid.qld.gov.au or phone (07) 3238 3482. 

Paul Davey
Deputy CEO
Legal Aid Queensland


26 April 2012 Centralised regional duty lawyer rosters
 

Starting 1 July 2012, duty lawyer rosters for magistrates courts in towns where LAQ is not located, will be managed in Brisbane by the coordinator duty lawyer services.

Firms not currently participating on duty lawyer rosters and who are interested in doing so, can apply to the coordinator duty lawyer services to join a roster by COB Wednesday, 16 May 2012.

Firms participating in current duty lawyer rosters will not have to re-nominate their interest in participating as they will automatically be included. Current rosters will roll over into the new roster period (with new participants if appropriate) starting on 1 July 2012. From 1 July 2012 all rosters will be based on a three month recurrent basis.

Applications to join duty lawyer rosters will be assessed against the following criteria:

Firms

A firm will be considered eligible to provide duty lawyer services if it:

  • Is a preferred supplier of LAQ and is on the preferred supplier crime panel in the location of the magistrates’ court, or
  • In areas where there are no preferred supplier firms, a firm may be considered eligible if it is able to demonstrate a nexus with the court/town, clientele and also be able to demonstrate how follow-on services will be provided to clients from the area.

Practitioners

A practitioner is considered to be eligible (authorised) to provide duty lawyer services if she/he:

  • Holds either a practising certificate issued by the Queensland Law Society Inc. or Bar Association of Queensland and is in full time private practice at the bar (not employed by statuary corporations, government or semi-government departments or agencies etc), and
  • Is accredited, by Legal Aid Queensland or Queensland Law Society Inc, to provide duty lawyer services to magistrates or childrens courts.
  • Is employed by a firm on LAQ’s panel of preferred suppliers or is on LAQ’s panel of barristers.
  • Agrees to comply with the professional rules published by QLS and/or the Bar Association of Queensland.
  • Agrees to provide duty lawyer services in accordance with current procedural guidelines and case management standards in respect to duty lawyer service provision.

In summary, rosters operating at the present time and continuing until 30 June 2012 will continue unchanged unless unforeseen circumstances require changes. Duty lawyer rosters commencing 1 July 2012 will include firms already on current rosters and may include new firms if considered appropriate.

Any changes to current rosters, will be notified to all participating firms in advance of 1 July 2012.

Any firm/practitioner wishing to join a duty lawyer roster must apply to the coordinator duty lawyer services by COB 16 May 2012.

All enquiries in respect to any of the above can be referred to:

John Dean, Coordinator Duty Lawyer Service Tender and Contract Manager (Legal Services)
Phone: 3238 3461
Fax: 3238 3340
Email: jdean@legalaid.qld.gov.au


26 August 2011 New People Smuggling database
 

From tonight a new LAQ in-house database of people smuggling judgments will be available to preferred suppliers from the Grants Online Information Resources dropdown menu.

The People Smuggling database is maintained by LAQ Library Services in collaboration with other Australian legal aid agencies. It contains summaries of decisions from a range of Australian jurisdictions, linked to the full text of the relevant decision wherever possible. While we are attempting to gather together as many decisions as possible, the database may not provide a comprehensive coverage of all available verdicts.

Although to date the number of people smuggling cases has been relatively small, it is growing larger. We hope the new database can assist preferred suppliers encountering these types of matters in future.


31 January 2011 Attention: Criminal law firms providing duty lawyer services in magistrates courts
 

On 1 November 2010 the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction Reform and Modernisation Amendment Act 2010 (the Act) came into force introducing new processes such as, case conferencing and summary and committal call-overs for unrepresented defendants appearing at magistrates courts state wide.

LAQ has carefully considered how to manage these new processes and since the introduction of the Act, LAQ has attended meetings with stakeholders, the Chief Magistrate (and other judicial officers) and Police Prosecutions in an effort to reach agreement on aspects of service provision which LAQ will be able to sustain given available resources.

More particularly, preferred suppliers and duty lawyer service providers have sought clarification on what payment provisions will apply to the new regime.

As a result of those meetings the following procedures will be adopted:

Case conferencing

The Chief Magistrate has issued Practice Direction 9 of 2010 to provide practitioners with guidance in relation to case conferencing.

Case conferencing means negotiations (including discussions as to whether or not negotiations will take place) between prosecutions and defence to discuss issues in dispute in order to bring about an early resolution to proceedings, which negotiation may result in, but are not limited to the amendment, substitution or withdrawal of charges and/or the agreement as to a factual basis of sentence and submissions on sentence range. Practice Direction No 9 also requires that case conferencing must take place prior to the committal or summary call-over. It is understood Police Prosecution's interpretation of the practice direction and more particularly the definition of a "case conference" is that a case conference must occur with a legal representative and prosecutions between the mention and call-over stage of proceedings at a location other than the court of their choosing.

The point that has been missed here is that duty lawyers assist and appear for unrepresented defendants and are not available on days other then those notified in court calendars.

With the support of the magistrates court, LAQ is attempting to use duty lawyers to engage in case conferencing with prosecution representatives to facilitate the early disposition of matters. Duty lawyer service providers must attempt to contact local Police Prosecutions Corps and confirm whether case conferencing can occur on call-over days in order to facilitate the use of duty lawyers for this purpose. Where agreement cannot be reached with local Police Prosecutions, these instances are to be reported to the coordinator of duty lawyer services for follow up with the Chief Magistrate.

Case conferences should be confined to straight forward issues such as the amendment, substitution or withdrawal of charges or reaching a common agreement on the factual basis for a plea, as these issues will generally enable the early disposition of a matter. However, if this is not possible and there is clear merit in conducting case conferencing, duty lawyers are to adjourn matters and advise defendants to apply for legal aid if appropriate. Duty lawyers are not to attempt case conferencing where complex and lengthy negotiations will be required. In these circumstances, duty lawyers are to adjourn matters and advise defendants to apply for legal aid or seek private legal representation, if this is an option for the defendant.

All duty lawyers (criminal law) are to refer to Magistrates Courts Practice Direction No 9 of 2010 for information about case conferencing.

Summary and committal call-overs

Practice Direction 9 states that -

"Call-overs of matters in the committal and summary streams will be held on a day or day determined by the court in consultation with the DPP, QPS and LAQ."

In Brisbane, LAQ has, by arrangement with the magistrates court, agreed to attend at summary and committal call-overs each Wednesday.

Service providers, preferred suppliers and LAQ, will now need to reach agreement with local magistrates courts about how the call-overs will work in their courts. Advice of local arrangements reached or any difficulties encountered are to be notified to the coordinator duty lawyer services via email - jdean@legalaid.qld.gov.au.

Attendance and payment at call-overs

Summary and committal call-overs, arising from the Moynihan reform procedures, will be attended to by LAQ where LAQ has a presence. If for whatever reason, LAQ is not able to provide the required services those services can be briefed out (notification of such an occurrence to be sent to coordinator duty lawyer services). However where LAQ does not have a presence, preferred suppliers/authorised practitioners will be entitled to claim payment for any time spend in attending such call-overs.

It is anticipated that at courts where LAQ does not have a presence and call-overs are infrequent, magistrates will elect to 'tack' or 'add' summary and committal call-overs to arrest call-overs. This will simply extend the time commitment expected of duty lawyers. Duty lawyer sessions should be completed to cover the entire time that duty lawyers are expected to be at court to complete the court business for any given day. There is a chance however that at some larger regional courts, magistrates may elect to conduct call-overs on separate days. If this occurs, firms/practitioners will be able to claim payment by lodging session reports as they would if attending arrest call-overs. Arrangements which require an increased duty lawyer commitment in a particular locality should be reported to the coordinator of duty lawyer services.


15 October 2010 Continuing Professional Development resources

Legal Aid Queensland has renamed its CLE program the "Continuing Professional Development" or CPD program.

The list of CPD papers and DVDs is still available from the Continuing Professional Development resources page - accessible from a link on the main Continuing Professional Development page of the Grants Online 'Information Resources' menu. As well as listing the DVDs eligible for solicitor points in the current CPD year, links to the relevant CPD rules for solicitors and barristers are also provided.


28 May 2009

Criminal lawyers - improved searching for comparable sentences

We've made it easier for you to find comparable sentences to assist those of your clients likely to be sentenced for indictable offences.

Our new compact comparable sentences search form has been extensively tested within LAQ and is well accepted by our in house practitioners.

The new search form is more logically organised, making it easier and more intuitive to use. It also provides improved searching capability for certain types of offences.

This is what the new form looks like:

new comparable sentences search form

Should you have any queries about using the new search form, you can telephone LAQ Library Services on 3238 3449.

We'd love to hear your feedback about the new form - simply email email icon Library Services.


21 November 2008 Preferred supplier research results

Results of the 2008 Preferred Supplier research, conducted by Colmar Brunton on behalf of Legal Aid Queensland are now available.

As with previous surveys, Preferred Suppliers were asked to give their views on various aspects of our business relationship – communication and support, time targets, electronic commerce, our audit process, professional development resources, and the extent of our involvement of Preferred Suppliers on a strategic level in the development of our policies, systems and procedures. Additional topics covered in the 2008 research Include views of suppliers on the experience of solicitors who work on LAQ matters, provision of criminal law duty lawyer services, timeframes for arranging family dispute resolution conferences and areas of improvement to services for clients.

Overall satisfaction with the Preferred Supplier Scheme has remained consistently high with most service areas maintaining the same level of satisfaction.

LAQ is grateful for the feedback provided by Preferred Suppliers. The results reflect a commitment by both LAQ and Preferred Suppliers to work in partnership to ensure legally aided clients throughout Queensland are provided with quality legal services.

LAQ will use this research to guide the continuous improvement of our services and business systems.

Results can be downloaded in both PowerPoint icon Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT - 4.2 MB) and PDF icon Adobe Acrobat (PDF - 487 KB) versions.


14 February 2008

Gifts and benefits policy - note to Preferred Suppliers from the Chief Executive Officer, Legal Aid Queensland

The Queensland Government has issued an updated 'gifts and benefits' policy for all agencies including, Legal Aid.

It has become a practice over recent years for some preferred suppliers to take grants officers to lunch or shout them drinks from time to time and to give them a gift at Christmas. Under the new policy, grants officers are included in a special category of public sector employee that now precludes them from accepting such benefits or gifts. Grants officers have been made aware of the new policy and will have to refuse all such benefits and gifts from now on.

To assist in our implementation of this new policy and to make it easier for grants officers, it would be appreciated if you would no longer offer such benefits and gifts to grants officers.

It has always been accepted by Legal Aid that these benefits and gifts have been offered to grants officers as a means of fostering a good working relationship with grants officers and as a way of saying 'thank you' and have never been intended or taken as seeking to influence grants officers in the performance of their duties.

The issue however is one of public perception and given the close working relationship between grants officers and preferred suppliers it is considered more likely that a gift or benefit given by you to a grants officer could be perceived as inappropriate.

We thank you for your support in helping us implement this change in policy.


21 December 2007 Interpreter policy - effective from 1 January 2008

Legal Aid Queensland's Interpreter Policy has recently been completed. Our policy details when legal aid will be approved to engage the services of an interpreter and the relevant grants of aid.

Documents to download: