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Committal hearing (committal project)

Assessment criteria

Committal hearings in the Brisbane or Ipswich Magistrates Court are not subject to a merit test. For legal aid to be granted for a committal hearing in the Brisbane or Ipswich Magistrates Court under guideline 4.3 – committals the following test must be satisfied:

If the applicant has:

  • an existing grant of aid for other criminal law matters and the applicant is approved aid with the same law firm, the multiple grants of aid policy must be met.

Documentary requirements

Application received from client

Applicants seeking a grant of legal assistance should forward all of the following documents for assessment:

  • A completed and signed Legal Aid Queensland application form.
  • Proof of income and assets (refer to the means test).
  • A copy of the charge or charges such as a notice to appear, bench charge sheet or Queensland court brief (QP9) material.

Application received from preferred supplier or in-house practitioner

Practitioners seeking a grant of legal assistance should electronically submit an application for aid via the Grants Online system along with:

  • the appropriate information request or checklist.
  • the "request to represent co-accused submission form" and where the request is submitted from either Legal Aid Queensland or ATSILS a copy of the appropriate internal delegate approval (if applicable).
  • Where the charges are an election matter, the practitioner must advise our office whether the matter is likely to proceed by way of committal.
  • Proof of income and assets (refer to the means test).

The following documents must be retained on the practitioner’s file:

Interpretation

The Brisbane Magistrates Court and the Ipswich Magistrates Court are the only courts included in the committals project. Other magistrates courts in Brisbane for example Richlands, Holland Park and Wynnum are excluded from the committals project.

If approved - matters which are transferred to the Brisbane Magistrates Court or the Ipswich Magistrates Court from another magistrates court are not considered under the committal project guidelines unless:

  • the matter is being joined to other proceedings in the Brisbane Magistrates Court or the Ipswich Magistrates Court; or
  • the matter is listed in the Gatton Magistrates Court as all committals are automatically transferred to the Ipswich Magistrates court.

Matters which originate in the Brisbane Magistrates Court or the Ipswich Magistrates Court which are subsequently transferred to another magistrates court remain under the committal project guidelines.

Grant(s) of aid

The grant of aid for a hand up or registry committal hearing is MR1.

Extension(s) of aid

Counsel engagement in the early stages of proceedings

If the charge(s) involve serious criminal law matters which require counsel to work with the solicitor in the early stage of proceedings, an extension of aid may be available for counsel provided the merits test and extent of funding guidelines for counsel are met. The grant of aid for counsel to be engaged in the early stage of proceedings is MR1A.

Formal summary application

An extension of aid is available for solicitors and counsel to make a formal application to the magistrate for:

  • Cross-examination of a witness at committal
  • Disclosure directions orders, and/or
  • Indictment of a indictable matter being heard summarily.

The grant of aid for a solicitor to make a formal summary application is MR2.

A grant of aid for solicitor and counsel to make a formal application to the magistrate is subject to the merits test and the extent of funding guidelines for counsel. The grant of aid is MR4.

Day one of committal hearing with cross-examination

For legal aid to be granted for cross examination of witnesses at a committal hearing, the prosecution must have agreed to witnesses being cross examined or leave to cross examine witnesses has been granted by the court.

The grant of aid for a solicitor to appear at a committal hearing to cross examine witnesses is MR3.

A grant of aid for solicitor and counsel to appear at a committal hearing to cross examine witnesses is subject to the merits test and the extent of funding guidelines for counsel. The grant of aid is MR5.

Additional days of committal hearing with cross-examination

Where additional days of committal are required, or negotiations have resulted in the matter proceeding as a summary plea the following grants of aid are applicable:

  • The grant of aid for solicitor to appear at additional days of committal hearing with cross examination or negotiated summary plea is MR6.
  • The grant of aid for counsel to appear at additional days of committal hearing with cross examination or negotiated summary plea is MR7.

ATSILS/ Replacement barrister to appear at  day one or additional days of a committal hearing with cross examination:

  • The grant of aid for counsel (only) to appear at day one of a committal hearing with cross examination is MR8
  • The grant of aid for counsel (only) to appear at additional days of committal hearing is MR9

Early Resolution Pilot

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is instigating an Early Resolution Pilot (ERP) commencing 30 July 2018. LAQ will be participating in the pilot but has not received any additional specific funding for this pilot. The primary purpose of the pilot is to identify matters suitable for diversion, early resolution and case management into the higher courts as early as possible. It is also anticipated that the pilot will assist in identifying inhibitors to diversion, early resolution and case management. In pursuit of these purposes the DPP will appoint a senior prosecutor within 3 days of a matters first mention in the Magistrates Court. The pilot will include privately funded matters, matters were representation is provided by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) and legally aided matters.  In approximately 50% of Legally Aided matters that are identified under this pilot, funding will also be granted for Counsel in the Magistrates Court.

The ultimate goal of these changes is for matters to either result in summary disposition or to be moved through the court process to disposition or indictment presentation within 100 days.

The pilot is restricted to committal proceedings in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and will be capped at a total of 500 matters. To gain meaningful data of whether or not benefits are gained from the early allocation of a senior prosecutor or the early allocation of a defence barrister, there will be 250 matters where counsel is funded and a control group of 250 solicitor only matters. A requirement of the pilot is that Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) will randomly provide a grant of aid for counsel on 50% of legally aided matters included in the pilot.

The merits test and public interest / complexity tests will not be applied prior to issuing counsel (MR1A) grants on pilot matters. If a pilot participant was not approved aid for committal as per the standard tests or did not apply for a grant of aid from LAQ, there is no requirement for LAQ to provide funding for the committal proceedings or for counsel.

For all matters included in the pilot, an ERP clause will be issued on the file to indicate inclusion in the pilot. 

Review of decisions

A decision to refuse legal aid for this type of matter may be appealed to the external review officer (refer to review of decisions).

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