Change in Legal Aid Queensland criminal law funding guidelines
13 January 2010
From 1 January 2010, the Legal Aid Queensland criminal law funding guidelines were amended. Applications received on or before 31 December 2009 will be assessed using the previous guidelines.
Changes to the committals guidelines
The merits test has been reintroduced for committal matters where the offence carries a sentence on conviction of 14 years or less. The new guidelines do not apply to matters being heard in the Brisbane or Ipswich Magistrates Courts, which are covered by the Committals Project.
This means practitioners or clients requesting a grant of aid for a committal hearing will have to provide evidence to grants officers to show there is a strong likelihood that the client will benefit from being legally represented on committal.
The guidelines now read:
Aid may be granted in committal proceedings (14 years or less) where it is likely that:
- The defendant will be charged; or
- Additional disclosure may result in the charge which the defendant faces not proceeding by way of committal and being dealt with summarily; or
- The committal will identify an early plea for a matter which must be determined in the District Court; or
- The committal will significantly reduce the length of a subsequent District Court trial; or
- The defendant has a disability or disadvantage which would prevent self-representation at committal proceedings.
Changes to the summary plea guidelines
Under the previous summary plea guidelines, applicants must show their matter is too “complex” to be dealt with by a duty lawyer to be eligible for aid for representation.
The revised guidelines define complexity, stating that a matter is too complex for a duty lawyer if it requires the representing solicitor to gather additional information or evidence. Applicants also have to show they face a high risk of a lengthy term of imprisonment to be eligible for aid for representation.
The guidelines will now read:
Pleas of guilty will be entered by a duty lawyer unless:
- The defendant faces a high risk of being sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment; or
- The requirement for the representing solicitor to gather additional information/evidence means that the matter can not be dealt with by a duty lawyer; or
- The defendant has limited ability to give instructions because of a disability or disadvantage.
For more information, please see the Legal Aid Queensland 'Criminal Law Guideline Changes - Frequently Asked Questions' fact sheet or contact the grants operations manager, Cathy Carr, on 3238 3483 or email@example.com.