Victoria Legal Aid

Meet our Major Criminal Cases assessment team

We recently created a Major Criminal Cases (MCC) team which sits within our wider Legal Assessments team, and more broadly, our Grants and Quality Assurance team

Thursday 30 May 2024 1:10am
Group photo of Ben Stern, Elenore Holmes, Tonia de Sousa and Christiane Khalil Souta
L–R: Acting Coordinator Ben Stern, Major Criminal Cases; Legal Assessor Elenore Holmes, Major Criminal Cases; Legal Assessor Tonia de Sousa, Major Criminal Cases; Manager Christiane Khalil Suta from our Legal Assessments, Grants and Quality Assurance team

We recently created a Major Criminal Cases (MCC) team which sits within our wider Legal Assessments team, and more broadly, our Grants and Quality Assurance team.

The team comprises a coordinator, advisor and three legal assessors, and has been formed to focus solely on the assessment of grants relating to major criminal cases. Major criminal cases are defined as trials that are 16 or more days or committals that exceed four days.

The benefit of the team is that legal assessors who are part of the MCC team only focus on major criminal cases, and can immerse themselves in the intricacies of the matters they are working on. The team is also able to manage the larger cases more effectively by having a dedicated team in charge of fewer, but more complex matters.

Acting Coordinator Ben Stern believes the new team will deliver a number of benefits to our organisation.

‘By not having to go through the file history each time a request is made, the MCC team is able to respond more quickly to panel practitioners, which is consistent with our outcomes frameworkExternal Link , including supporting our partners in the legal assistance sector.

‘Panel practitioners also benefit from the MCC team by developing personal relationships with solicitors and receiving more effective assessments, as our team can discuss the more nuanced aspects of grant applications,’ said Ben.

An example of the good work the team has been delivering was evident in a recent urgent practitioner request for additional preparation worth over $250,000, and with a trial fast approaching.

It was a complex assessment, and we were only able to accurately assess the application after speaking to the practitioner multiple times, and explaining how the MCC team works. The practitioner was able to communicate directly with the legal assessor in charge of the matter and a decision was able to be made in a timely manner. This would not have been possible without the MCC team.

Additionally, the team also deals directly with the Major Criminal Cases Committee on matters which require their decision. This has helped the team have conversations with various voices within the organisation, and increased their legal knowledge, particularly in relation to criminal procedure.

More information

For more information about grants of legal assistance and to find out how to contact grants, visit Grants enquiriesExternal Link .

If you have any questions about the Major Criminal Cases team, contact Acting Coordinator Ben Stern at Ben.Stern@vla.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 04 June 2024