Fee for subsequent child protection readiness hearings

Fee for subsequent child protection readiness hearings

Monday, 21 December 2020

From 1 January 2021, we will be providing an appearance fee for practitioners who appear at a subsequent readiness hearing in child protection matters heard in the Children’s Court of Victoria.

The fee will be available until Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) reaches a cap of subsequent readiness hearings. This approach is necessary to carefully manage VLA’s child protection expenditure. The date the cap is reached will depend on the number of such hearings listed by the court in coming months.

‘In response to feedback from the profession and informed by ongoing monitoring of data, we will fund appearance fees for a capped number of subsequent readiness hearings, recognising the importance of families continuing to be legally represented where possible.'

Amy Schwebel, Acting Executive Director, Family Youth and Children’s Law.

‘VLA will continue to work closely with the Children’s Court to monitor the number of subsequent readiness hearings we fund, while we explore resourcing options for any matters which exceed the cap.

‘We will communicate with the court and the profession when the subsequent readiness hearing cap is reached,' said Amy.

Interim fees for readiness hearings in 2021

Appearance fees, including for subsequent readiness hearings, will be funded at $362.

Only first readiness hearings will be eligible for a preparation fee of $241. Preparation fees cannot be claimed for subsequent readiness hearings.

Matters which reach a final settlement at a first readiness hearing will be eligible for the current settlement preparation fee of $430 (as an alternative to the general preparation fee).

Please note these fees reflect the two per cent increase in professional fees applicable from 1 January 2021. This 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 fees applicable in 2020.

How to apply

Practitioners will be able to claim the appearance fee for a subsequent readiness hearing via an extension under their broadband grant for a non-standard disbursement.

We will amend the notes to the Guidelines in the VLA Handbook to reflect this process.

More information

If you have any questions about the interim fees for readiness hearings please contact grants@vla.vic.gov.au.

Read more about the Children’s Court of Victoria Practice Directions on the court's website.

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