For legal aid to be granted for an expert report the following tests must be satisfied:
- The report directly relates to the proposed plea and it is likely to result in a significant reduction in the sentence that might otherwise be expected, and
- The material cannot be presented to the court without obtaining the report, and
- the applicant has been provided aid for the substantive matter, and
- the applicant meets the merits test.
All requests for an uncommon report will be referred to a senior grants officer for consideration unless:
The matter has been deemed an expensive or extraordinary case. If this is the case, the request is determined by the senior grants officer managing the expensive/extraordinary case.
The report exceeds $1500. If this is the case, the request is determined by a Grants Manager.
The request relates to an interstate report writer. If this is the case, the request is determined by the Assistant Director Grants.
Extension of aid requests received from preferred supplier or in-house practitioner
Practitioners seeking a grant of legal assistance should electronically submit an extension of aid request via the Grants Online system and include details of the number of hours sought to prepare the report. The practitioner must also provide information to support the merits test with regards to the “appropriateness of spending limited public Legal Aid funds" test, and the "prudent self-funding litigant" test.
Legal Aid Queensland does not have a scale of fees for uncommon reports such as:
- forensic pathology
- forensic accountants
- fingerprinting experts
- sexual risk assessment
- DNA analysis
- forensic computer analysis
- handwriting experts
- private investigators
- photographic/computer professionals
For aid to be granted for a report other than a report from a general medical practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist, the practitioner is required to certify that:
- Expert evidence is relied upon to support the prosecutions case and an independent report is required for the defence of the matter.
An expert is someone who can demonstrate, by reason of their specified training, study or experience, they have become an expert in a field of specialised knowledge.
The nature and extent of studies pursued by the witness will vary greatly and will depend upon the area of study in question.
They need not be a leading or even senior practitioner in the field, but must be sufficiently skilled.
There are fields in which the witness’s skill could never, or need not, derive from scholastic studies, but rather from practical experiences, e.g. that of an Aboriginal tracker trained from the age of seven by his grandparents in tracking, particularly human and animal footprint recognition, and experienced in it over many years.
Ultimately, it is for the judge to determine whether the witness has undergone such a course of special study or has the experience to make the witness expert in a particular subject.
Grant(s) of aid
The grant of aid for an uncommon report is COT