Summary criminal proceedings

Summary criminal proceedings

Table A sets out the fees payable for appearances in:

  • summary proceedings in the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court
  • summary criminal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court
  • summary proceedings in the Assessment and Referral Court List.

Table A sets out:

  • the ‘standard rate’ which applies when a person is charged with one summary offence
  • the ‘consolidated rate’ which, in some circumstances, may apply when a person is charged with two or more summary offences
  • co-accused fees.

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

Events covered by the lump sum fee for a grant of assistance made in accordance with Table A

A lawyer in receipt of a grant of assistance pursuant to Table A may carry out any of the work specified in these tables without a further extension of aid.

Contest mention appearance fee in Table A

The appearance fee for the contest mention in Table A flows automatically from the initial grant of assistance. The lawyer does not need to apply to Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) for any further assistance to cover the appearance.

However, before attending a contest mention, the lawyer must be satisfied that the necessary criteria are met. That is, the lawyer must be satisfied that:

  • on the available evidence, the assisted person has a reasonable prospect of acquittal on all or some of the charges
  • based on the likely penalty, the charge or charges would have qualified for a grant of assistance.

Before the contest mention date, the lawyer must also have attempted to negotiate a plea with the prosecution.

If that negotiation did not resolve the matter, then the lawyer may attend the contest mention before a magistrate to:

  • try to narrow the issues between the parties to areas of genuine dispute
  • identify the witnesses necessary for the hearing of the matter
  • identify the matters which may be admitted between the parties
  • re-examine the possibility of a negotiated plea.

Consolidated fees

VLA will grant assistance at the consolidated rate only if the assisted person is charged with two or more summary criminal offences any two of which come within VLA's guidelines.

Is the type of proposed plea relevant to the consolidated rate in Table A?

If the assisted person is charged with two or more summary criminal offences which satisfy the criteria for the consolidated rate in Table A then, irrespective of the proposed plea, the lawyer should recommend that VLA grant the consolidated rate.

The proposed plea is relevant only to the extent it makes a summary matter one which VLA will assist or one which VLA will not assist.

What if one or more of the matters does not resolve at a contest mention?

If one or more of the matters does not resolve at a contest mention, then the lawyer should request that VLA separately assist the unresolved matters as a standard grant with contest under Table A and both matters will be paid as standard summary grants.

What if the matter is to be disposed of at a contest mention and a later hearing?

If the matter is to be disposed of at a contest mention and a later hearing, then the following rules apply:

  • If all matters resolve into a plea, then the matter remains one to which a consolidated rate applies.
  • If one or more matters (X) resolves and another matter (Y) does not resolve, then:
    • VLA may grant X and Y summary grants from the beginning to allow the Table A general preparation fee to be paid in each matter
      and
    • VLA may extend assistance for Y to allow for a contested hearing.

Assessment and Referral Court List fees

For appearances at the Assessment and Referral Court (ARC) List, VLA will pay the following rates:

  • eligibility hearing
  • individual support plan ratification hearing
  • review hearing.

Other than on final plea or sentence, VLA will only pay for an appearance at a review hearing where there is a real and substantial risk that the client’s individual support plan will be cancelled or significantly varied.

For matters in the ARC List, VLA will only pay for psychiatric, psychological and other reports if the reports can be prepared by the services of the court.