Providing quality advocacy for legally aided clients

Providing quality advocacy for legally aided clients

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Our Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List was established in July 2015 and provides us with oversight over the quality of barristers briefed in legally aided trials.

It also supports our statutory obligation to provide legal aid in the most effective, economic and efficient manner.

Acting Executive Director Legal Practice Gayathri Paramasivam said the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List plays a crucial role in providing quality advocacy for legally aided clients.

‘The private Bar plays an instrumental role in providing quality representation to the thousands of people whose defence is funded by Victoria Legal Aid each year.

‘Barrister quality is fundamental as it ensures high quality representation and well run trials that benefit our clients, the courts and the community.

‘Our list has 238 members – 221 barristers from the Victorian Bar and 17 Victoria Legal Aid public defenders – and with almost 240 members on the list, practitioners now have a plethora of choice,’ said Gayathri.

Fast facts as at 8 March 2019

  • 58 female barristers from the Victorian Bar (26 per cent of list)
  • 16 Senior Counsel (7 per cent of the list)
  • 272 barristers from the Victorian Bar applied to be on the list

It should be noted that some barristers have elected to be removed from the list, including those who have accepted judicial appointments.

Exceptions to briefing barristers on the List

Under Guideline 4 – trials in the County and Supreme courts, it is a requirement for practitioners to brief only a preferred barrister for a legally-aided criminal trial. However, for trials 15 days and under, practitioners may apply in advance for an exception to brief a barrister who is not on the list.

Given the choice available on the list, exception applications will only be approved in limited circumstances.

It is expected that barristers express an interest and apply for membership on the list instead of having their instructor submit applications for an exception.

‘Exceptions allow VLA to support the junior Bar in undertaking appropriate trials. Where instructors submit these applications early on, well before the commencement date of the trial, sufficient consideration can be given to the request.’, said Gayathri.

See Notes on trials in the County or Supreme courts for more information.

Expressions of Interest

Expressions of interest for membership of the list can be made at any time. These will be assessed as part of the quarterly assessment cycle.

The next assessment is in June 2019. Should you wish to be considered in the next cycle, please submit your expression of interest by 5 May 2019.

More information

Find out who is on the list.

What are the entry requirements and assessment guidelines.

Contact

For more information about the list, please contact, Elizabeth Le, Assignments Co-ordinator, Major Criminal Cases via email preferredbarristerlist@vla.vic.gov.au or phone (03) 9606 5224.

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