Review of decisions

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    Review of decisions

    The Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997 requires the board to establish a review mechanism it considers appropriate to review decisions made by Legal Aid Queensland about legal assistance.

    The review mechanism applies to the following decisions:

    1. A decision to refuse a grant of legal assistance.
    2. Conditions imposed in grants of legal assistance.
    3. Variation or termination of grants of legal assistance.
    4. Imposition of an initial or retrospective contribution.
    5. A decision to refuse to pay costs awarded against legally aided people.
    6. A decision not to deem a criminal law matter extraordinary or expensive.
    7. A decision not to deem a family or civil law matter complex.
    8. A decision on the nature and extent of any additional fees provided in a grant of legal assistance.
    9. A decision on disputed private practitioner accounts.
    10. A decision not to exceed the expenditure cap in family law matters (refer to guideline 18 Commonwealth family law matters).
    11. A decision not to approve a transfer of solicitor.
    12. An internal review decision to refuse to re-list a matter before the external review officer as a material change in circumstances has not been demonstrated.

    The review mechanism has two processes as follows:

    1. An internal review process for all of the decisions listed above except for a decision to refuse to grant legal assistance in an appeal matter where a merit opinion has been obtained from counsel. These decisions are referred directly to the external review process.
    2. An additional external review process is available for decisions in categories 1-5.

    All review decisions are made having regard to the policies and guidelines published by Legal Aid Queensland.

    A. Internal Review

    Requests for internal review of a decision must be made in writing within 28 days of receipt of notice of the decision. Legal Aid Queensland may consider an extension of time to seek a review in exceptional circumstances.

    Additional information may be submitted in support of an application for review.

    The internal review of decisions in all categories is conducted by an officer of Legal Aid Queensland who was not involved in the initial decision and is of a higher classification than the initial decision maker. Where the Chief Executive Officer is the initial decision maker a request for review is referred directly to the external review process.

    The reviewing officer will reconsider the matter taking into account all relevant information held by Legal Aid Queensland including any further information provided and issue a new written decision.

    Applicants and, where the review request is submitted by the applicant's practitioner, the practitioner are notified of decisions under this process.

    For internal review decisions where external review is not available (categories 6 - 12 above), and for internal review decisions (categories 1 - 5 above) where the applicant does not apply for an external review, the internal review decision is the final decision of Legal Aid Queensland.

    B. External review

    If the applicant disagrees with the internal review decision in categories 1 - 5 above, the applicant may, within 28 days of notification of the internal review decision, apply for review by an External Review Officer of the internal review decision.

    Save where the decision relates to the imposition of an initial or retrospective contribution, an applicant whose matter is referred to an External Review Officer may request a telephone interview with the External Review Officer. Interviews may be conducted in the presence of the applicant's private solicitor, but no payment will be made to a solicitor for such attendance.

    The External Review Officer will reconsider the matter taking into account all relevant information held by Legal Aid Queensland including the internal review decision and any further information provided, and issue a new written decision.

    An External Review Officer may:

    • confirm the internal review decision, or
    • vary that decision, or
    • substitute another decision.

    The decision of the External Review Officer is the final decision of Legal Aid Queensland.

    Where there has been a material change in circumstances, a matter may be re-listed before the same External Review Officer at the discretion of the External Review Officer.

    External Review Officers are:

    • Solicitors or Barristers in private practice appointed by the Board of Legal Aid Queensland.
    • Bound by the secrecy provisions of the Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997.
    • Subject to normal rules of conflict of interest should they have any prior knowledge of a matter which is referred to them.
    • Indemnified by Legal Aid Queensland for any liability that could be incurred in the performance of their duties.

    Last updated 28 November 2022