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About the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List

Information about the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List, including the purpose, equitable briefing practices, development of barristers and duration of membership.

The establishment of the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List reflects feedback from stakeholders on the important role barrister quality plays in a well run trial.

The list will provide more oversight around the quality of barristers we fund. It will also ensure Victoria Legal Aid meets its statutory obligation to provide legal aid in the most effective economic and efficient manner.

The list will support diverse briefing practices for women, Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse barristers.

The implementation of a preferred list of barristers is one of the key recommendations of the Delivering High Quality Criminal Trials project which was undertaken in 2014.

Purpose of the list

The list will ensure that only preferred barristers represent legally aided accused in criminal trials, unless an exception is granted in advance.

Criminal trials only

The list only relates to criminal trials. It does not include committals, appeals to either the County Court or Court of Appeal, and plea hearings in the County and Supreme Courts.

Equitable briefing practices

Victoria Legal Aid endorses the Equitable Briefing Policy for Female Barristers and Advocates, which is available on the Law Council of Australia website.

In addition, we:

  • encourage the briefing of women, Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse barristers
  • will ensure equitable representation of women, Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse barristers within the list
  • expect panel members to genuinely consider briefing women, Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse barristers for criminal trials.

Development of barristers

We will continue to encourage and facilitate the development of competent junior barristers to undertake legally aided trials.

Barristers who are not on the preferred trial barrister list will be able to appear in legally aided trials if:

Solicitor advocates

Solicitor advocates are not required to be on the list to appear in trials, as members of the Indictable Crime Panel have already been assessed by Victoria Legal Aid and are accountable for all work performed in an indictable case.

Our practice standards require panel practitioners to make all reasonable efforts to ensure counsel has the necessary skill, expertise and competence to represent the client in the matter and in any potential appeal. This includes:

  • solicitor advocates who are briefed to appear at trial
  • panel practitioners who brief solicitor advocates to appear at trial
  • solicitor advocates who appear at trial for their own clients.

See section 3.4 of the Practice Standards and Notes on trials in the County and Supreme courts.

Duration of membership

Membership of the list is for three years from the date of entry, subject to:

  • annual declarations by preferred barristers regarding:
    • maintenance of a practicing certificate and Indictable Crime Certificate
    • disclosure of findings, complaints or investigations regarding professional misconduct and/or unsatisfactory professional conduct
  • the ability of Victoria Legal Aid to remove barristers from the list as it sees fit.