Collaboration focuses on improving quality of criminal trials

Collaboration focuses on improving quality of criminal trials

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A working group of private criminal lawyers and Victoria Legal Aid staff met last week to discuss developing quality tools that could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of criminal trials funded by legal aid.

Delivering High Quality Criminal Trials project manager Gavin Green said the meeting reflected the project’s commitment to collaborating with the profession to improve quality.

The project aims to ensure that our major expenditure on criminal trials delivers quality for clients, efficiency for the courts and value for money for the community.

The Delivering high quality criminal trials consultation paper was released in January this year, and since submissions were received in March we have continued to meet with stakeholders.

We are now considering four major areas – development of a major trials framework, implementation of quality tools, fee structures and the briefing of counsel for legally aided trials – as we develop recommendations for the Victoria Legal Aid Board.

The working group examining quality tools has now met twice and is looking into some of the ways case preparation can be improved.

Members of the working group are:

  • Theo Magazis from Theo Magazis and Associates
  • Bill Doogue from Doogue, O’Brien, George Criminal Lawyers
  • Hali Atwa from Fitzroy Legal Service
  • Emma Turnbull, Andrew Halphen and James Dowsley from the Law Institute of Victoria.

Victoria Legal Aid Director of Criminal Law Services Helen Fatouros has led the discussions, accompanied by in-house staff Sarah Westwood, Nella Buccheri, Amit Malik and Rebekah Haylock.

The group is considering what defines quality practice in indictable crime and ways to achieve it; quality tools, particularly templates to guide analysis of evidence and development of case strategy, indictable crime checklists and expectations for communications between solicitors and barristers.

Working group member Theo Magazis said he has found the working group beneficial to date.

‘I think we’re hoping to achieve a better standard of legal service, that benefits not just the profession, but ultimately our clients,’ said Theo.

‘Everyone is there to contribute, and the benefits of our work will flow onto our clients which is the most important aspect of our job.’

Gavin said that having these discussions was fundamental to being able to distil a set of well-informed and meaningful recommendations that would be presented to the Victoria Legal Aid Board.

Any changes resulting from recommendations endorsed by the Board are expected to be announced in September.

Pictured (L–R): Bill Doogue of Doogue, O’Brien, George Criminal Lawyers and Andrew Halphen from the Law Institute of Victoria.
Pictured (L–R): Bill Doogue of Doogue, O’Brien, George Criminal Lawyers and Andrew Halphen from the Law Institute of Victoria.

More information

Delivering high quality criminal trials