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Preferred supplier newsletter—April 2020

Welcome to Legal Aid Queensland’s Preferred supplier newsletter, which will provide you with news and policy updates, upcoming CPD events and other relevant information. We will try to limit the adhoc emails that have been sent previously and hope that you find the monthly newsletter useful.

If there are any topics you would like us to cover please contact us at psupp.coordinator@legalaid.qld.gov.au and we will try to include it in the next newsletter.

This month:

  • Unsigned applications
  • Means test
  • Expensive Case Grants
  • Online youth certification portal
  • Grants phones
  • LAQ IT service desk
  • Queensland Corrective Services update — advice to legal practitioners about telephone contact with defendants
  • COVID-19 legal profession responses
  • CPD events

Unsigned applications

Where a solicitor acting as duty lawyer—and can’t engage with the client personally—takes an application for legal aid, the usual requirement for the applicant to sign before lodging the application has been waived during this period.

Grants is accepting and processing these applications, however it is a grant of aid condition that the client’s signature is obtained as soon as practicable (as per previous advice on 30 March — see website announcement).

To ensure you submit an application successfully through Grants Online, you will be required to declare, both on checklists and at the standard declaration section, that you have the signed application form/are meeting the requirements in the Grants Handbook – which includes having a signed application form, however if the form has not been signed the extra details (free text) section of the application should include the notation “Client unable to sign – access restrictions due to COVID19”.

Means test

You will be aware that as a result of the current pandemic Centrelink benefits for the Job Seeker allowance have increased. Where the client is fully reliant on the Job Seeker payment for their income, LAQ will accept the relevant Centrelink income statement as evidence that the income component of the means test is met.

Where an applicant is in receipt of the Job Keeper allowance (paid through employers), this should be included in the application as income in the usual way.

The current assets tests continue to apply.

Expensive Case Grants

LAQ is finding ways to help lawyers to deal with the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have noticed when receiving expensive criminal case preparation approvals that the total grant approval advised has been split into a number of approvals each with a separate invoice for solicitor and counsel. This is to allow solicitors and counsel engaged in matters over lengthy periods to make interim claims for payment as a matter progresses. In these uncertain times when court events are being delayed due to the pandemic, LAQ has implemented this to provide an opportunity for practitioners to make interim claims for payment rather than wait for the matter to be finalised, noting some cases may now be delayed for significant periods.

Online youth certification portal

As you would be aware, in July 2019 LAQ began rolling out a compulsory certification program for all practitioners undertaking file work on LAQ’s youth crime panel.

The youth practitioner certification portal is now accessible through LAQ’s Grants Online, Information Resources, “Youth Practitioner Certification Resources”. Here you will find all relevant material mentioned in the training, including the letter precedents which are ready for your adaption and use.

The portal will soon host provisional certification via eLearning resources. This will allow lawyers to practice in the Childrens Court until they can attend face-to-face or webinar training at a later date. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, LAQ is unsure when this will be. If you have any new staff who want to undertake Childrens Court files but are yet to attend the certification training, please email for more information.

Earlier in the year a link was circulated for feedback on the youth practitioner certification. Thank you to those who took the time to complete this. For those yet to complete the survey, it takes no more than 5 minutes and will help us with future training.

Grants phones

At this stage Grants, like many other work areas, is working in a constrained environment. The Grants team phones have a message directing suppliers to email their Grants team or, if email not available, to call the contact centre grants inquiry line which is usually available for clients. You will appreciate that the delays on this phone line can be lengthy in the current circumstances.

The daily volume of emails as well as new applications and extension requests being received continues to be high and we are working to maintain our services. The Grants email boxes for each team are cleared each day and allocated to available staff to action. We can usually only action the most urgent matters on the same/next day.

If your matter is urgent, please include in the email subject line “URGENT” along with the next court date or an indication of the reason for urgency. This will help staff to triage matters more effectively and prioritise responses.

Current Grants team email contacts are as follows:

We are hoping to be able to restore some of our standard phone services in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for your ongoing patience and support at this time.

LAQ IT service desk

Due to the changing work environment, our IT service desk has reduced its phone hours to 8am–4pm each business day and ask that during this time that you please email the IT service desk for help rather than calling if the issue is not urgent. Please include your firm name, firm number (if known) and a contact phone number in the message.

We apologise for any inconvenience and will endeavour to attend to your queries as soon as possible.

Queensland Corrective Services update — advice to legal practitioners about telephone contact with defendants

Queensland Corrective Services have prepared a Communication to legal practitioners which outlines the process for making phone bookings to arrange contact with a defendant to take instructions about bail application.

To ensure more timely access to clients, please request telephone contact rather than video link while they continue to work on increasing video link capacity across centres with prioritisation being provided to court proceedings.

Up to date bookings contact information for each correctional centre can be viewed here.

COVID-19 legal profession responses

The Queensland Law Society has a dedicated page that is regularly updated with relevant information about responses to COVID-19. We encourage you to regularly familiarise yourself with these updates.

CPD events

Due to the evolving pandemic, the difficult decision has been made to cancel all CPD events until 30 June 2020.

All recorded CPD events from the 2019–20 CPD year are now available on Grants Online in the Information resources menu. If you need help locating these recordings or other CPD material in Grants Online, please email.

We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by these cancellations, however the health, safety and wellbeing of our community, clients and staff is paramount.

The Queensland Law Society has granted practitioners an extension of time up until 30 June 2020 to comply with CPD requirements under part 6 of the Queensland Law Society Administration Rule 2005.

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