Guideline 4 – trials in the County or Supreme courts

Guideline 4 – trials in the County or Supreme courts

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of legal assistance to a person for representation at a criminal trial in the County Court or in the Supreme Court only if:

  • the charges cannot be heard and disposed of in the Magistrates’ Court (unless, if they can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court, there are compelling reasons why they should not be)
    and
  • it is desirable in the interests of justice to provide a grant of assistance.

County Court trials and Supreme Court trials

Instructing/co-counsel guideline

VLA will provide a fee for:

  1. the instructing practitioner who has prepared the matter for trial; or
  2. an instructing practitioner who is experienced and well versed in the facts of the case and the relevant law; or
  3. junior counsel, where the assigned practitioner in consultation with their client determines that it is more appropriate to ensure a fair trial in the particular case; or
  4. junior counsel, where a practitioner who meets subsection a) or b) is not available or not preferred;

as and when required at court in a criminal trial.

Requirement for counsel's written merits advice

Upon conviction and sentence, counsel is required to provide a written advice as to the merits of an appeal against conviction and/or sentence within 7 days of sentence. The fee for such advice is set out in Table F.

Requirement to brief a barrister from the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List

Practitioners must only brief a preferred barrister for a criminal trial, unless an exception is granted in advance.

Exceptions to briefing a preferred barrister will not be granted for a major criminal trial. 

Senior counsel

VLA may provide a grant of assistance for the briefing of trial counsel who is senior counsel in complex trials. Where the briefing of senior counsel is approved, the fees are not to exceed the fees for senior counsel set out in Table M.

More information

For more information and guidance on interpreting and applying this guideline see these resources:

Also see VLA's website for more on the Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List