Principles applying to payment of fees for Magistrates' Court stage of indictable matters

Principles applying to payment of fees for Magistrates' Court stage of indictable matters

Fees on this page are effective from 1 January this year. For fees payable prior to this see Archived versions of the Handbook.

What the grant of assistance for Magistrates' Court stage of indictable matters covers

Where aid is granted for general preparation, the practitioner may also claim applicable work items contained in 'general fees' and 'plea fees' in Table F without seeking further assistance.

General preparation fee

The lump sum general preparation fee is payable in all indictable matters that cannot be heard and disposed of in the Magistrates’ Court. General preparation includes taking instructions, reading the hand up brief, advising the client, any necessary jail conference, entering into negotiations with the prosecution and preparing and filing the Form 32 Case Direction Notice.

Brief analysis and case strategy fee

Practitioners must retain evidence of their brief analysis and development of the case strategy on the file in order to claim this fee.

Practitioners are encouraged to use the Brief Analysis and Case Strategy tool.

Brief fee

The first day brief fee includes preparation, conferences and appearance on the first day of the committal. At the time of briefing counsel for the contested committal, counsel must also be briefed to undertake post-committal negotiations and to appear at the County or Supreme court first directions hearing.

Committal mention/case conference

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) will pay the fee in Table E for each necessary attendance at committal mention or case conference.

Special mention

VLA will pay the fee in Table E for each necessary attendance at a special mention.

Travel fees

Where an advocate appears at a committal mention, case conference or special mention which is more than 40 kilometres from the advocate’s usual place of business, a travel fee may be paid. This fee is calculated at the rate of 74 cents per kilometre for each kilometre of the return trip in excess of 80 kilometres, and is paid as a disbursement.

Additional solicitor preparation – contested committal/negotiations

The additional solicitor preparation fee in Table E is only payable once and is payable in the following circumstances:

  • where a grant of legal assistance is made for a contested committal (this preparation includes taking further instructions and any necessary jail conferences)
  • where the solicitor engages in meaningful negotiations with the prosecution prior to or at the committal mention/case conference/contested committal.

This preparation fee is not payable where a matter proceeds as a straight hand up brief without meaningful negotiations with the prosecution.

Contested committal

A further grant of legal assistance for contested committal must be sought if the matter is to proceed to a contested committal.

Contested committal brief

The first day brief fee includes preparation, conferences and appearances on the first day of the committal. At the time of briefing counsel for the contested committal, counsel must also be briefed to undertake post-committal negotiations and to appear at the County or Supreme Court first directions hearing.

Circuit fees – contested committal hearings

Except where counsel or solicitor advocate practices in the circuit town or a surrounding township, circuit and overnight fees in accordance with Table NN shall be payable.

Summary plea

Where a summary plea is negotiated and heard, the fee in Table E shall be paid unless the plea is heard on the same day as the contested committal in which case no additional fee is payable.

Jail conference

An additional fee is payable for one jail conference with the accused.