Information for lawyers

Family violence panel quality audits commencing in October

From October, the Quality Audit team will be in contact with family violence panel members to support practitioners to meet their obligations as outlined in the Practice Standards.

These audits will help us ensure the best possible experience for the people we are assisting in family violence matters, as well as promote practitioners who are leading the way, delivering great services to their clients.

Magistrates’ Court of Victoria Practice Direction 17 of 2020 and our fees

The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria has recently issued Practice Direction 17 of 2020. It is aimed at progressing cases in the backlog and increasing the use of online hearings where appropriate.

Practice Direction 17 requires practitioners to take the following steps.

Practitioners should enter their appearance on Electronic Filing Appearance System (EFAS) for all summary stream criminal matters where they are acting.

New fees payable in COVID-19 and other criminal hearings

We have introduced new fees as a result of COVID-19 and the court’s response to the pandemic. 

County Court Emergency case management model

Phase 1 matters

Case conference fees the case conference fee is determined by how the hearing eventuated. For example, if a resolution discussion hearing becomes a sentence indication then the sentence indication fee applies. As the practitioners may not know what aid is needed prior to the hearing, retrospective applications can be made.

Introducing our Grants and Quality Assurance team

In 2019, we reviewed our Assignments, Quality Audits and Panels teams to improve our services and to align with our organisation strategy – Strategy 22

We consulted with many of our practice partners to examine options for improving our relationships, processes and quality of services. As a result of these reviews, we identified that a new structure would better support our practice partners and delivery of client focussed services.

A new deed for all panel firms

We have amended our Panel Deed and schedules to reflect recent changes in our grants compliance framework.

In 2015, we responded to practitioner feedback by ceasing to restitute funds for grants which we later assessed as not meeting the funding guidelines. We recognised that in most cases these situations arose from a genuine error, and that restitution might create a barrier to practitioners doing legal aid work.

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