Essential grants information for criminal lawyers

Essential grants information for criminal lawyers

Monday, 1 March 2021

Fee increase of two per cent from 1 January 2021

We have increased all professional fees by two per cent effective from 1 January 2021. The fee increase automatically applies to all existing grants of legal assistance where the matter has not been finalised, and new grants made on or after that date. All appearances and additional preparation completed prior to the changes attract the old fees.

Claiming additional preparation fees

Practitioners are reminded to use the current preparation fees worksheets for solicitors and counsel when claiming additional preparation fees. This will ensure that fees are paid at the higher current rate.

Briefs to counsel for indictable crime matters

Practitioners are reminded of our practice standards and measures for briefs to counsel. All briefs must include a back-sheet detailing the fees payable and not simply reference ‘VLA fees’. Further information about our practice standards and measures for briefing counsel can be found in our Practice Standards Measures (part 3.4).

Preparation only available for trial counsel

Our guidelines provide that preparation fees are only available for trial counsel and are not available for co-counsel/junior counsel. This reflects our position that we generally only approve one counsel.

Approvals of applications for grants of legal assistance for two counsel are the exception. Where two counsel are approved, the brief fee for second counsel includes eight hours of preparation.

We will determine applications for additional preparation in two counsel situations on a case by case basis. We must be satisfied that the additional preparation is essential before we agree to pay for it.

Read more about payment of preparation fees to counsel.

Merits advice following criminal trials and/or pleas

Practitioners are required to provide a copy of counsel’s written advice when applying for a grant of legal assistance for an appeal against conviction and/or sentence to the Court of Appeal. This requirement applies irrespective of whether the matter was legally aided or privately funded, and reflects practitioners’ professional obligations to comply with Supreme Court of Victoria Practice Note SC CA 1 (Criminal Appeals). Section 6 sets out the expectation that counsel briefed for criminal trials and/or pleas will provide a written advice on the prospects of success of an appeal.

More information

For queries about these grants essentials, please call (03) 9269 0600 or email grants@vla.vic.gov.au

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