Letting you know when a client has come to Night Court

Letting you know when a client has come to Night Court

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Our current approach 

In the course of our daytime duty lawyer service, one of our first steps is to determine whether an accused person is a client of a panel firm. This process starts with Victoria Legal Aid's (VLA’s) staff conducting ATLAS checks for and talking directly to people who are appearing before the Court in relation to bail. Based on the outcome of these checks, staff determine whether:

  • a person is a current client of a panel firm
  • has been recently represented by a panel firm
  • appears to have an ongoing relationship with a panel firm.

In any of those circumstances VLA staff will attempt to contact the lawyer. In some instances VLA staff will make several attempts to speak to the lawyer, to check whether they are able to attend court and represent the client.

Contacting you during night court – it’s your choice

For people appearing before night court, the initial process will be the same – VLA staff will check ATLAS and/or talk directly to clients to identify those with a pre-existing relationship with a panel firm. When we identify this is the situation, our staff will attempt to contact lawyers who have indicated they want to be contacted about clients appearing at night court. If you would like to be contacted in this scenario, call or email Gemma Hazmi from VLA’s Assignments team to provide an after-hours contact number or email address.

We understand that the business models of our practice partners – whether firm, sole practitioner or CLC – are based on providing services at court during the day. Up until earlier this year, so was ours. This is a change for the whole legal aid sector.

We do not expect you to be able to attend night court but we welcome anyone who does intend to appear there. If you do not not attend court, and VLA acts for the client as a duty lawyer, staff will send a referral and update email the following day.

For those who would like to be contacted when their client comes to night court, VLA duty lawyers will use this contact to:

  • notify you that your client has been remanded to appear at night court
  • ascertain if you would like to attend to conduct the appearance yourself or
  • collect any information you have which is relevant for the duty lawyer to use on the night.

Because we respect that your commitments after hours will be different to during the day, VLA staff will make only one attempt to contact you.

Let us know if you want to be contacted during Night Court sessions

If you wish to be contacted (in the event that your client appears at night court) please nominate an after-hours phone number or email address to ​Managing Lawyer Assignments Gemma Hazmi by email gemma.hazmi@vla.vic.gov.au or phone (03) 9280 3920. 

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