Pilot private practitioner duty lawyer scheme to deal with conflicts

Pilot private practitioner duty lawyer scheme to deal with conflicts

Under a new pilot scheme, private practitioners will have the opportunity to work as duty lawyers in summary crime and family violence matters where the Victoria Legal Aid duty lawyer is unable to act due to a conflict of interest.

The pilot private practitioner duty lawyer scheme operates in courts where Victoria Legal Aid has not previously relied on private duty lawyers, and extends to eligible parties in summary crime and family violence matters. The scheme is open to sections 29A and 30 criminal and family law panel practitioners.

It does not alter arrangements in place for the existing rostered private practitioner duty lawyer schemes, and will be reviewed in mid 2015.

How we allocate work

To be allocated work, panel practitioners attending court for other matters (whether privately or funded by Victoria Legal Aid) can advise the Victoria Legal Aid duty lawyer of their availability on arrival that day.

Victoria Legal Aid officers are authorised to allocate matters at court as the need arises based on an assessment of conflict. They will allocate to the first available section 29A panel practitioner for the relevant law type and then to section 30 panel practitioners.

Practitioners who are allocated matters will receive a certificate of authorisation, duty lawyer record (DLR) forms and a claim form/tax invoice. A DLR must be completed for each service and Victoria Legal Aid will inspect DLRs from time to time in order to verify claims.

Download the Private Practitioner Duty Lawyer Conflict Scheme tax invoice (docx, 43.82 KB).

Storing and destroying duty lawyer records

We comply with our obligations under the Public Records Act 1973. These obligations extend to all Victoria Legal Aid contractors, including private practitioners who are funded to perform duty lawyer services.

Accordingly, practitioners must retain these records for:

  • 25 years from the date of action for child clients
  • seven years from the date of action for other clients.

Records should be stored in date order, with records for child clients stored separately.

Records must be stored and destroyed in accordance with the practitioner’s obligation to maintain client confidentiality at all times.

Fees

The fee payable to private practitioner duty lawyers under the pilot scheme is $154 (GST inclusive) per hour up to a maximum of three hours if only one matter has been allocated, or otherwise up to a maximum of six hours.

For matters prior to 1 January 2017 refer to fees in the archived versions of the VLA Handbook for Lawyers.

The hours are calculated from when the first matter is allocated until the completion of all allocated matters. The calculation of time spent on allocated matters does not include time spent on matters funded privately or by Victoria Legal Aid and breaks.

More information

For information about the pilot scheme, contact:

Andrew Morse, Panel Practitioners Co-ordinator
Email: andrew.morse@vla.vic.gov.au
Phone: (03) 9269 0644

For information about existing rostered private practitioner duty lawyer schemes, see Private practitioner duty lawyers.