Which decisions may be reconsidered or reviewed?

Which decisions may be reconsidered or reviewed?

Section 36(5) of the Legal Aid Act 1978 lists the decisions which Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) will reconsider internally and which may be independently reviewed. They are:

  • a decision by VLA to refuse a grant of legal assistance (including a decision to refuse a grant of the type or extent applied for)
  • a decision by VLA to put a condition on a grant of legal assistance
  • a decision by VLA to change a condition which VLA previously put on a grant of legal assistance
  • a decision by VLA to end or change a grant of legal assistance
  • a decision by VLA about paying costs under section 48 of the Legal Aid Act.

Can a person seek reconsideration and review of the fees VLA will pay and of cost ceilings?

VLA will not reconsider the level of fees it will pay under its lump sum fee scales, even if a lawyer or an assisted person requests reconsideration. It is also not possible to request independent review of the fees payable.

VLA also cannot reconsider the application of any maximum fee that is payable in stage of proceedings set by the VLA board or by the Commonwealth Legal Aid Guidelines. It is also not possible to seek independent review of the application of any maximum fee that is payable in stage of proceedings.

What if a lawyer is dissatisfied with the level of fees or with the cost ceilings?

If a lawyer is dissatisfied with the fees payable by VLA or with the maximum fee payable in any stage of proceedings then the lawyer should not accept the work or the brief.

How does VLA tell people about their right to ask for reconsideration and review of its decisions?

VLA gives people full information about their right to ask for reconsideration and review of VLA’s decisions::

  • when a person applies for a grant of legal assistance
  • when VLA gives the person a letter setting out the results of their application a grant of legal assistance
  • during the course of the person’s case, when further assistance has been granted
    and
  • if VLA refuses or ends a grant of legal assistance.