Compliance and conduct of funded matters

Compliance and conduct of funded matters

Victoria Legal Aid has a statutory objective to provide legal aid in the most effective, economic and efficient manner.

We expect the highly skilled practitioners on our specialist panels to provide clients with high quality representation and to manage the costs of matters closely.

Compliance checks

Practitioners on our specialist panels use the simplified grants process (SGP) to apply for legal assistance on behalf of their clients and make recommendations to Victoria Legal Aid against our funding guidelines and merits tests.

To ensure our limited funds are directed to those most in need, we periodically check decisions to provide grants based on practitioner recommendations via the SGP.

If a compliance check shows that a grant of assistance should not have been recommended, the firm may receive a breach notice to redress the error. If Victoria Legal Aid has incurred costs, we may also issue a restitution notice to recover the costs.

By conducting regular checks and working in partnership with firms on compliance issues, we support practitioners to make appropriate recommendations for a grant of legal assistance. This helps firms to maintain or improve their compliance, with the potential added benefit of reduced breach notices and related financial penalties.

Case study: compliance with funding guidelines

We worked with a firm to address an increasing number of breach and restitution notices resulting from recommendations made by a particular practitioner at that firm. Read more.

Requesting information from practitioners

Under section 31(3) of the Legal Aid Act 1978 (Vic), we may request information about the progress and conduct of a legally assisted matter from the practitioner conducting the matter.

This enables us to monitor the quality of the legal representation we fund, exercise oversight and scrutiny of high-cost or high-risk matters, and ensure general compliance with our statutory objectives.

It also helps us to identify opportunities for supporting practitioners throughout the course of a legally assisted matter and to work with practitioners to recognise and resolve any possible issues before they arise.

Case study: conduct of indictable trials

We exercised discretion under section 31(3) to request information from a practitioner about the conduct of a legally assisted criminal trial. Read more.