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Committal hearing (specified proceedings)

Assessment criteria

Committal hearings in the magistrates court in respect of charges for which the maximum penalty exceeds 14 years are not subject to a merit test as they are classified as specified criminal proceedings. For legal aid to be granted for a committal hearing in under guideline 4.1 – 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

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

  • The appropriate committal hearing 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).
  • Proof of income and assets (refer to the means test).
  • Where the charges are an election matter, the practitioner must advise whether the matter is likely to proceed by way of committal.

The following documents must be retained on the practitioner’s file but may be requested by Legal Aid Queensland:

Interpretation

Merit test exemption

Committal proceedings in the magistrates court in respect of charges for which the maximum penalty exceeds 14 years are means tested only, and are not subject to the merit test.

The merit exemption for specified matters only applies where the proceedings are to proceed or are likely to proceed by way of committal. These guidelines therefore apply to matters that:

  • must be determined in the district court or Supreme Court, or
  • are prosecution election matters and prosecutions have advised that the matter will proceed by way of committal, or
  • are defendant election matters and the defendant has elected to proceed by way of committal.

If an applicant is charged with an offence for which the maximum penalty exceeds 14 years, and that offence is to be determined summarily, the means test as well as the relevant guidelines for a plea of guilty in the magistrates court or trial in the magistrates court will be applied.

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 the 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.

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

Additional days of committal hearing with cross-examination or negotiated summary plea

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 available:

  • 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

Decision makers of a higher delegation

All applications for aid for in relation to people smuggling matters are determined by a senior grants officer.

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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