Entry requirements and assessment guidelines for barristers

Entry requirements and assessment guidelines for barristers

Members of the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List are required to:

Entry requirement 1: Expertise in criminal trial advocacy, professional and appropriate practice

Barristers are required to:  

  1. be competent to conduct legally aided trials in an effective, economic and efficient manner
  2. comply with Victoria Legal Aid’s criminal trial advocacy competencies
  3. conduct practice professionally and appropriately.

Assessment guideline

These requirements will be assessed on the basis of the information provided in the expression of interest, Victoria Legal Aid knowledge of the applicant, stakeholder feedback, information from internal and/or publicly available records (including court transcript and judgements) and any other matters deemed relevant.

Consideration may include:

  • feedback from clients, other legal professionals, service providers, the judiciary and other relevant parties
  • performance in criminal trials, pleas, appeals, committals and other areas of advocacy
  • quality of written advices, defence responses, preparation, correspondence with practitioners
  • performance in assessments conducted by Victoria Legal Aid, including the Trial Counsel Development Program
  • previous dealings and relationship with Victoria Legal Aid, where relevant
  • complaints, compliance and quality audit records
  • rates of discharge of juries, relevant appeal judgments going to conduct of trial, foreseeable adjournments, trial lengths that exceed reasonable estimates
  • indications of poor or late trial preparation.

Entry requirement 2: Indictable Crime Certificate

The barrister is required to hold and maintain an Indictable Crime Certificate issued by the Victorian Bar.

If a barrister does not yet hold an Indictable Crime Certificate they are required to apply and undertake to be assessed for an Indictable Crime Certificate at the first opportunity provided by the Victorian Bar.

If a barrister is not then issued an Indictable Crime Certificate or the Indictable Crime Certificate is cancelled, suspended or withdrawn, the barrister will be removed from the list.

Assessment guideline

Barristers are required to make a declaration or undertaking about their Indictable Crime Certificate. Victoria Legal Aid may seek confirmation from the Victorian Bar, where necessary.

Applicants who do not have an Indictable Crime Certificate issued by the Victorian Bar will be required to:

  • declare that they have applied to be assessed for an Indictable Crime Certificate
  • undertake to be assessed for an Indictable Crime Certificate at the first opportunity; and
  • undertake to immediately advise Victoria Legal Aid if they are not issued with an Indictable Crime Certificate. 

Entry requirement 3: Practising certificate

The barrister is required to:

  • maintain a current practising certificate without any condition or restriction that would limit the barrister’s ability to provide services to panel members and legally aided accused
  • have held an appropriate practising certificate for the full period of the recent practising experience disclosed on the expression of interest form.

Assessment guideline

Barristers are required to make declarations about their practising certificate. Victoria Legal Aid may seek confirmation from the Legal Services Board, where necessary.

Entry requirement 4: Disclosure of misconduct and complaints

The barrister is required to disclose:

  • any findings of professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct made by the Legal Services Board, Victorian Bar Council, Indictable Crime Certificate Committee, Legal Services Commission or any equivalent body in any jurisdiction, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or any other court or tribunal, including any privately constituted body to discipline its members
  • any current or ongoing complaints or investigations into professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct being handled by the Legal Services Board and Commission, Victorian Bar Council, Indictable Crime Certificate Committee,  or any equivalent body in any jurisdiction, or Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or any other court or tribunal, including any privately constituted body to discipline its members
  • any findings of guilt for any criminal offences other than infringements
  • any claims against them for professional negligence.

Assessment guideline

Barristers are required to make declarations about misconduct or complaints. When assessing any finding Victoria Legal Aid will consider whether the conduct:

  • indicates ‘a material risk of harm to [legal aid] consumers of legal services’
  • undermines Victoria Legal Aid’s obligation in section 7(1)(a) of the Legal Aid Act 1978 to ensure that legal aid is provided in a manner which dispels fear and distrust.

Victoria Legal Aid ‘may give consideration to the honesty, open candour and frankness demonstrated by [the] person in their disclosure’ (Legal Service Board’s Fit and Proper Person Policy (pdf 191KB)).

If there are any current or ongoing complaints or investigations the expression of interest may not be processed until the matter has been determined.