Interim Bail Night Court funding for Victoria Legal Aid Duty Lawyer Service

Interim Bail Night Court funding for Victoria Legal Aid Duty Lawyer Service

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

As a part of the Victorian Government’s $5.5m funding announced on 22 January, Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) has been asked to provide a duty lawyer service at night in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

Although the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court has been hearing bail applications at night for the last 12 months, this represents an expansion of services. The Interim Night Court is expected to commence in the coming months. Police prosecutors, Community Corrections and Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) are also funded to participate.

The Interim Night Court will operate as a direct presentment bail court with the ability to hear some related matters. The exact nature of how the court will operate and how Victoria Legal Aid services will function is still being finalised.

Transitional phase with Bail and Remand Court (BaRC) still to come

Our Acting Executive Director, Criminal Law Dan Nicholson says this is a transitional phase that will allow VLA to provide better services to clients and test how legal aid services work in the night court environment.

'While VLA has only been funded to provide a duty lawyer service for the Interim Night Court, we expect that, in accordance with the recommendations of the Coghlan review, a more comprehensive Bail and Remand Court will be rolled out,' Dan says.

'We expect that BaRC will include greater scope for structured private practitioners’ involvement.

'VLA will work with the profession in the lead up to BaRC to address issues such as grants, fees and the duty lawyer model,' he says.

A change to test a service model and provide better assistance to clients

'The Interim Night Court presents challenges, particularly for our service model,' Dan says.

'However, this interim phase will provide an opportunity to test our service model and understand the needs of our clients ahead of more permanent arrangements. Importantly, it will provide clients with representation and access to some services, neither of which is possible in the current night court model.'

In preparation for the commencement of this new night service, VLA will shortly recruit new legal and administrative roles.

More information

For more information please contact Chief of Staff Annie Tinney by phone (03) 9269 0656 or email annie.tinney@vla.vic.gov.au