What's new for legal aid lawyers

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Criminal Case Assignment Christmas and New Year availability

14/10/2021 - The end of the year is fast approaching! If you have leave planned over the festive season for a period of more than 5 working days, or intend to be away in the days between Xmas and the New Year, please send your unavailable dates to legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz by Monday 15 November 2021.

This will allow us to identify any areas where provider coverage may be limited and ensure that you do not get disturbed unnecessarily during your break.

Also, a quick reminder for any future unavailability, please email your dates to the team at legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz.

Implementation of a nationwide roster for the PDLA service over the holiday period

14/10/2021 - Last year Legal Aid Services (LAS) Implemented a temporary nationwide roster for the Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA) service over the Christmas/New Year holiday period. This was implemented to ensure timely access to justice throughout the holiday period. It aimed to ensure that Police were able to continue to contact PDLA lawyers during a period of the year where it can be more difficult for Police to facilitate contact due to leave and unavailability over the holiday period.

Feedback on the nationwide roster used over the holiday period last year indicated that the use of a nationwide roster made it easier for police to facilitate contact with PDLA lawyers over the roster period.

In order to ensure timely access to justice throughout the holiday period this year, LAS intends to implement a similar nationwide roster from 17 December 2021 to 10 January 2022. This will run in a similar manner to last year’s roster, with PDLA lawyers being paid a flat hourly rate to deliver the service during rostered shifts.

LAS is running a survey aimed to give PDLA providers the opportunity to indicate whether they would like to be included on this year’s nationwide holiday period roster. Providers who are interested in being on a nationwide roster over the holiday period will be given the opportunity to indicate what dates they would be available to be rostered on by completing the survey below:

consultations.justice.govt.nz/osd/c2ddee11(external link)

All legal aid providers with PDLA approval, regardless of their PAL level, will have the opportunity to be included in the upcoming roster. Further details on how the roster will operate are included in the survey above.
The survey will close on 15/11/2021. PDLA providers who do not complete the survey by this date will be unable to be included on the holiday period roster.

If you have any further questions about this, please contact NSDOpsSupport@justice.govt.nz.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (4 October 2021)

Part of the Waikato region is currently at Alert Level 3 until Friday 8 October 2021. Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied under Alert Level 3 will apply now apply to those areas inside the boundary in the Waikato region.

This means that:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:

  • There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.
  • Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant.
  • Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

Duty lawyer Payments:

  • When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.
  • We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.
  • Provider audits remain paused. If we require any further information from you regarding audits that are already underway, we will be in touch.

The Covid 19 Alert Level boundary map can be found here: Level boundary map(external link)

As the Auckland region remains at level 3 at this time, the advice provided on 22 September 2021 remains the same. For the remainder of Aotearoa New Zealand at Alert Level 2, and the advice provided on 8 September 2021 also remains the same.

Thank you again for your continued cooperation.

Clarifying processes for managing body samples taken during a post mortem

30/09/2021 - In response to the Court of Appeal decision in Milner v R [2019] NZCA 619, the Ministry of Justice has made changes to how post mortem samples are managed.    

When charges filed in relation to a death, the control over samples will pass from the coroner to the trial court.

Parties will need to make an application to the trial court if they want to access the samples (e.g. to do more testing). The laboratory will provide access to samples with written confirmation of the judge’s decision to grant access.

If there is an appeal, the control of samples stay with the trial court unless an appeal court specifically requests control of the samples.

When court proceedings are final, coronial services will request that control of the samples passes back to the coroner if the family wants them returned or disposed of. Otherwise, the samples will be retained by the laboratory.  

Travel across alert level boundaries

24/09/2021 – With regard to the statement from the Chief Justice and the current Alert Level settings we do not expect any Duty Lawyer travel between the Alert Level boundaries. In order to facilitate this, we have ensured that no Duty Lawyer is rostered to attend a Court that would require them to cross the boundary.

We thank you for your assistance.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (22 September 2021)

22/09/2021 – The Auckland region will be in COVID-19 Alert Level 3 from 11:59pm on Tuesday 21 September 2021.  The rest of Aotearoa New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2.

Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied under Alert Level 3 will apply now apply to the Auckland region. This means that:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:

  • There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.
  • Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant.
  • Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

Duty lawyer Payments:

  • When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.
  • We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.
  • Provider audits remain paused. If we require any further information from you regarding audits that are already underway, we will be in touch.

For the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand remaining at Alert Level 2, the Legal Aid policy advised on 8 September 2021 remains the same. 

Thank you again for your continued cooperation.

Quality Assurance Submissions and Decisions

16/09/2021 - We are pleased to advise that we have finalised the Complaints Management and Audit operational policy. The policies will be live from Monday 20 September 2021 and available on our website on the quality assurance framework page.

Thank you to everyone who engaged with these reviews. Your contributions have helped us to determine the best way to ensure that our policies are fit for purpose and work well for you and our participants. 

The submissions and decisions document linked below provides context around why we have made the changes to the policies.

Submissions and Decisions Quality Assurance [PDF, 220 KB] 

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (8 September 2021)

8/09/2021 – Aotearoa New Zealand, excluding Auckland, will be in COVID-19 Alert level 2 from 11:59pm Tuesday 7 September 2021.

Accordingly, the Legal Aid Services updates and policies introduced in response to COVID-19 that have been previously applied to regions in Alert level 2 will be reinstated. For all regions excluding Auckland, the following policies will apply from 8/9/2021 for the duration of alert level 2:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

Provider audits and complaints will resume in the regions that are in level 2.  

As the Auckland region remains at level 4, the Legal Aid policy advised on 18 August 2021 remains the same for this region.

We thank you for your assistance and cooperation during this time.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (1 September 2021)

1/09/2021 – On behalf of Legal Aid Services I would like to update all legal aid providers on our response to the announcement of the continuation of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 for the Auckland region to 14 September, with the rest of the nation moving into alert level 3 at 11:59 on Tuesday 31 August.

Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied under Alert Level 3 will apply nationwide.

This means that:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:

  • There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.
  • Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant.
  • Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

Duty lawyer Payments:

  • When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.
  • We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.
  • Provider audits remain paused. If we require any further information from you regarding audits that are already underway, we will be in touch.

The Auckland region is currently at alert level 4. In response, for those areas where Alert Level 4 applies, the Legal Aid policy advised on 18 August 2021 remains the same. We will continue to provide updates via ‘What’s New for Legal Aid Lawyers’.

Thank you again for your continued cooperation.

Legal Aid Services are still operating under level 4

24 August 2021 – Legal Aid Services are mostly operating as normal during level 4. We have staff working from home, as well as a small number in the office. All work is being processed and we expect there to be minimal disruption to our usual timeframes.

We thank you for your ongoing assistance.

Complaints and limited audits consultation extension

20 August 2021 - Due to the current situation with New Zealand in alert level 4, we have extended the deadline for receiving feedback on our proposed changes to the quality assurance framework. The consultation will be extended until 12pm on Monday 30 August 2021.

We are seeking your feedback on the complaints management and limited audits policy. We look forward to receiving your comments. Please visit our consultation hub(external link) to have your say.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (18 August 2021)

18/8/2021 – On behalf of Legal Aid Services I would like to update all legal aid providers on our response to the announcement of a return to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 nationwide from 11:59 pm on 17 August 2021.

Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied last year under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 will apply again nationwide. This means that for the duration of alert level 4:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.
  • Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:

There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.

Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant. Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Duty lawyer Payments:

When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.

We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.

  • As you know the Ministry frequently conducts audits of its contracted service providers. Although audits are an important means of ensuring the quality of the Ministry’s contracted services, they have not been confirmed as critical. Legal Aid Services recognises that its providers in the community are themselves responding to these unprecedented events we are in and that it would be inappropriate to continue with the current audit programme at this time.

In making this decision the Ministry is also aware of the most recent advice concerning domestic travel and physical distancing practices.

For those reasons, all provider audits will be paused until further notice. If we require any further information from you regarding audits that are already underway, we will be in touch.

Please also note that following the Chief Justice’s statement on 17 August 2021 the courts will continue to receive filing of court documents and payment of fees in all proceedings. You are able to do this through the File & Pay tool(external link), which will allow you to file and pay for any documents and proceedings. Further information on using the tool can be found on the page, and any queries can be sent to FileandPayQueries@justice.govt.nz.

We will continue to provide updates via ‘What’s New for Legal Aid Lawyers’. Thank you again for your continued cooperation.
Ngā mihi

Tracey Baguley, Legal Services Commissioner

Update - Location exception travel policy

16 August 2021 – In the item published 29 July 2021 regarding the location exceptions travel policy has been amended. The item contained an error relating to the non-local travel definition, which has been corrected to the following:

Non-local travel is defined as travel involving a return trip from the provider’s normal place of work to the travel destination where:

  • the return distance is greater than 50 kilometres OR
  • the return travel time is greater than one hour AND
  • if the destination is the court, the provider is not on the assignment list for that court (criminal only).

Please note the last point does not apply to providers traveling from the specified locations to the courts on the Location Exceptions list as previously advised.

We apologise for any confusion caused.

Update - Funding for the SmartStart mobile devices for the Family cases

16 August 2021 – In the item published 29 July 2021 we advised that Legal Aid Services may fund the SmartStart mobile device for Family cases where there are issues regarding alcohol use. To clarify, this disbursement is not limited to devices by SmartStart. Any mobile alcohol breath testing device by any other company can be considered for funding under the Drug Testing disbursement.

The grants handbook has been updated with this information.

Complaints and limited audits consultation

16 August 2021 – This is a reminder that we are currently seeking your feedback for our review of the current quality assurance framework. We are seeking your feedback on the complaints management and limited audits policy.

To view the policy documents and have your say, please visit our consultation hub(external link). Consultation will remain open until Friday 20 August 2021.

Word template package update

6 Aug 2021 – We have updated the Word template package to include matters which can be claimed in relation to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

You can download the updated Word template package from the following page: 
https://www.justice.govt.nz/about/lawyers-and-service-providers/legal-aid-lawyers/forms/download-word-template-package/

No fixed-fees available for reviewing a cultural report

6 Aug 2021 – There is no fixed fee available for reviewing a cultural report or liaising with a cultural report writer.

When a disbursement for a cultural report is sought, the provider may also seek funding for liaising with the report writer and subsequently reviewing the completed report. Funding for these tasks must be sought by way of amendment to grant.

The fee for ‘written sentencing reports’ in Schedules A - C and D - F cannot be claimed, as a cultural report (prepared for submission under section 27 of the Sentencing Act 2000) is neither:

  • A court ordered report, or
  • An expert report. 

Complaints and limited audits policy review

2 August 2021 - We recently advised you that we are completing work reviewing the current quality assurance framework. We have drafted two policy documents for your feedback.

Firstly, we have completed a review of how we manage complaints under the Complaints Management Policy (Part Three, Quality Assurance). The main proposed changes are implementation of a triage system and creation of a ‘quick action’ process. The triage system will allow complaints to be reviewed and assessed at an early stage. The complaint can progress through a ‘quick action’ process if appropriate, and this will resolve the complaint in a shorter time frame. All other complaints will be classified as ‘serious’ or ‘very serious’ and progress through the normal investigation process.

Secondly, we are completing work reviewing the Audits and Monitoring policy (Part 2, Quality Assurance). We are proposing to improve the current policy to increase the amount of limited audits conducted each year. If the limited audit is passed, each providers likelihood for a full audit will decrease as a result.

I welcome your feedback as it will help ensure the new policy is fit-for-purpose and meets the needs of participants and providers. The consultation page is located at the link below and is open today until 5pm on Friday 20 August 2021.

https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/csi/2da4c092/(external link)

If you have any questions during the consultation, please feel free to contact Robert Ives, Acting Manager, Legal Aid Services at Robert.Ives@justice.govt.nz

Funding for the SmartStart mobile devices for Family cases

29 July 2021 - Legal Aid Services may fund the SmartStart mobile device for Family cases where there are issues regarding alcohol use. Providers may claim this under the prior approval Drug Testing disbursement via an amendment to grant.

The amendment must include:

  • Why the device is required
  • Why the lease period is justified
  • How it will contribute to a successful outcome for your client

Alternatively, if the use of the device is directed by a Judge, this can be claimed under the Drug Testing – Judge Directed disbursement. This disbursement is preapproved for Family cases and invoices will need to be submitted with a GST receipt to support the claim. Further information can be found in the Grants Handbook.

Email contact for duty lawyers

29 July 2021 - From 1 August 2021 we will be closing the old email address for duty lawyer correspondence.
Can you please ensure all duty lawyer invoices are sent to paymentsDL@justice.govt.nz. Any other queries relating to the duty lawyer roster should be sent to rostersDL@justice.govt.nz.

Assisting court participants who need help with communication

29 July 2021 - The Ministry of Justice has published the Communication Assistance Quality Framework to guide consistent use of communication assistance. It describes who can provide the service, how it should be delivered and how we will manage ongoing quality improvement.

Communication assistance is an important tool for courts to ensure that defendants understand court proceedings, and defendants and witnesses (participants) can give evidence to the best of their ability. When directed by a judge, communication specialists are engaged to assess participants’ communication abilities and give the court advice on how to enable effective communication.

Defence counsel and prosecutors must now complete an application form to request communication assistance. We recommend that you make an application when you suspect a participant may struggle to effectively communicate with you or understand and answer questions in court. A ground-rules hearing will be scheduled four weeks ahead of a trial involving communication assistance to clarify roles and avoid misunderstanding at trial.

Legal aid lawyers working on a case where a communication assistant has been appointed may apply for an amendment to grant if significant additional work is required.

Thank you for your ongoing support for consistency across courts and using the communication assistance to enable equal access to justice as envisaged in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Please see our website for more information.

Location exceptions travel policy update

29 July 2021 - After feedback from providers we have reviewed our travel policy for the Courts included in the Location Exceptions list in the Grants Handbook. Providers traveling to these courts  from the specified locations will now be paid travel, even if they are on the assignment list for that court, subject to meeting the non-local travel as defined in the disbursement policy.

Non-local travel is defined as  travel involving a return trip from the provider’s normal place of work to the travel destination where:

  • the return distance is greater than 50 kilometres OR
  • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

The Grants Handbook has been updated and can be found here

Interlock devices and app

22 July 2021 - Legal Aid does not provide funding to cover the cost of interlock devices or subscriptions to the OurFamilyWizard app as they do not fall within the definition of ‘legal services’ as provided in the Legal Services Act 2011. Section 4 of the Legal Services Act defines legal services as legal advice and representation. Such legal advice and representation includes assistance with:

  • resolving disputes other than by legal proceedings; and
  • taking steps that are preliminary to any proceedings; and
  • taking steps that are incidental to any proceedings; and
  • in arriving at or giving effect to any out-of-court settlement that avoids or brings to an end any proceedings

If you have a client who requires financial assistance to cover the cost of an interlock device, they may be eligible for the subsidy provided by NZTA. More information regarding this can be found at: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/driver-licences/driving-offences-and-penalties/alcohol-sentencing/alcohol-interlock-programme/alcohol-interlock-subsidy/(external link)

Review of Quality Assurance Framework

22 July 2021 - An opportunity has been identified to review the current quality assurance framework to ensure services are being delivered consistently and to the standards expected. For this review, the Ministry is looking to complete some work in the auditing and complaints space.

There will be future opportunities for you to provide feedback to ensure that any changes will make improvements to the service for our participants and providers. We thank you in advance for your engagement with us on this and you will hear more information soon.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Robert Ives, Service Delivery Manager at Robert.Ives@justice.govt.nz

Preliminary work fixed fee can now be claimed for Review of Sentence cases

22 July 2021 - Previously, the maximum grant for review of sentence cases included the sentencing related fixed fees only.  However, these sentencing fixed fees do not provide for the completion of any preliminary tasks. Preliminary work tasks a provider may perform when representing a client on a sentencing review matter include reviewing disclosure, identifying factual and legal issues, undertaking research, reviewing the evidence, and liaising with the prosecutor or court.

The preliminary work fixed fee will be made available on new review of sentence cases and may be claimed without requesting an amendment to grant.

Re-preparation fee for Sentencing in Schedules A-C

22 July 2021 - Following a review of the fixed fee for re-preparation in Schedules A-C of the fixed fee framework we have decided it will no longer be repeatable. The re-preparation fee will continue to be available where a trial/sentencing hearing is adjourned, but it will not be available for multiple adjournments. Where re-preparation for a hearing occurs more than once an amendment to grant will be required.

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Proof of income provided with Family and Civil Legal Aid applications must contain the applicants name

8 July 2021 – For Family and Civil legal aid applications, proof of the applicants income needs to be supplied with the application in order for a grant of aid to be considered.

Examples of documents that can be used for this can include:

  • bank statement showing salary or wages paid into account
  • a recent payslip(s)
  • a letter from employer
  • a letter or statement from Inland Revenue Department that provides proof of income (i.e tax statement etc)
  • benefit details from Work and Income New Zealand
  • latest set of annual accounts if the applicant is self-employed, a partner in a business or director of a company.

Screenshots can also be used to provide this proof (such a screenshot of the client’s MSD account etc). However, in order to be accepted as proof the screenshot must include the applicants name.

If the applicant’s name is not included in the screenshot, Legal Aid Services will be unable to accept it as sufficient proof of the applicants income, and will need to ask for further information.

Legal Aid Services are conscious that requesting further information from providers can be burdensome for both legal aid providers and applicants. As such, please ensure that an applicant’s name is embedded in documents or screenshots that are intended to verify the applicants income.

We thank you for your assistance.

Communication assistance survey - reminder

1 July 2021 - Thank you to those who have already given us feedback on the communication assistance service – the responses to date have been really useful.

The survey will close on Friday 2 July 2021 and is available here.(external link)

If you have been involved in a case that used communication assistance in the past 12 months, please take 5 minutes to complete the survey.

Thank you for your assistance, it’s much appreciated.

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court – 3 sites now operational

Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua – The House that uplifts the spirit

1 July 2021 - In November 2012, two pilot AODT courts were established in in Auckland and Waitākere.  These have now been made permanent and a third has been established in Hamilton District Court - Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua ki Kirikiriroa.

The AODT Courts aim to reduce drug use and associated offending through supervising the defendant and providing them with treatment programmes and life skills support. A number of therapeutic or solution-focused courts have been established in New Zealand where the judiciary, iwi, government agencies and communities collaborate to take more holistic approaches to address the underlying causes of offending. 

AODT Court operates with a maximum capacity of 50 participants at any one time at each site, with all participants in the programme undergoing Alcohol and Drug (AOD) screening prior to the consideration of eligibility to the Court. An open legal aid grant is required for all participants throughout the duration of their matter.

Hamilton District Court has introduced an AOD screening pathway that is not limited to potential AODT Court participants but will also identify intervention opportunities for anyone struggling with addiction.

Information on the AODT Courts, AOD screening, and referral processes can be found on the Ministry website.

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Mileage rate decreasing to $0.79 per km (update)

30 June 2021- We are updating our mileage rate to align with the IRD rate. The new rate is $0.79 per kilometre for all vehicles, the current rate is $0.82 per km.

Please disregard the previous What’s New that was published, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

To allow the new rate to be claimed as soon as possible, it will apply to all legal aid invoices received from 2 July 2021.

If you are using the Word template forms, please update the mileage rate. After the new rate has been recorded once, it will remember that going forward.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (29 June 2021)

29 June 2021– Wellington will return to COVID-19 alert level 1 from midnight, meaning all of New Zealand will be in alert level 1 from tomorrow.

Accordingly, the updates on Legal Aid Services’ response to COVID-19 that were published on the Ministry’s website on 23 June 2021 will no longer apply. This change will be effective from close of business on 29 June 2021.

We thank you for your assistance and cooperation during this time, in continuing to deliver our essential and priority services.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (23 June 2021)

23 June 2021 – Wellington will be in COVID-19 Alert level 2 from 6pm tonight. The rest of Aotearoa New Zealand will remain in Alert Level 1.

Accordingly, the Legal Aid Services updates and policies introduced in response to COVID-19 that have been previously applied to regions in Alert level 2 will be reinstated.

For the Wellington region, the following policies will apply from 6pm tonight for the duration of alert level 2:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.
    • This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required, and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.
  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

We thank you for your assistance and cooperation during this time, in continuing to deliver our essential and priority services.

Seeking your feedback on communication assistance

14 June 2021 - Have you been involved in a case that used communication assistance in the past 12 months?

The Ministry of Justice is running a short survey with the judiciary, defence counsel, and Crown and police prosecutors to get feedback on the communication assistance service.  We will use the information from the survey to monitor the quality of the service and inform ongoing improvement.

The survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete and is available here: consultations.justice.govt.nz/osd/8b3e2e9f/(external link)

Thank you in advance - your assistance is much appreciated.  The survey will be open until 2 July 2021.

2021 Triennial Review of Legal Aid Settings

11 June 2021 - As you will be aware, the Ministry of Justice has its Triennial Review of legal aid settings scheduled to take place this year. Given the demands of the current Ministry work programme, the scope and timing of any review will need to be considered alongside other work that the Ministry is doing to deliver on Government priorities.  In that context, we are in the process of seeking a decision from the Minister of Justice on what he would like to do regarding this year’s review. We expect a decision from him within in the next month and we will communicate further with you when we know this.

Should you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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New addition to travel exceptions list

27 May 2021 - Due to a shortage of available providers, Greymouth District Court has been added to the travel exceptions list for providers from Christchurch for PAL 1 Criminal matters.

This means Christchurch-based providers may be assigned Criminal PAL 1 matters in the Greymouth District Court, and, subject to the disbursements policy, reasonable travel costs will be approved.

The list has been updated in the Grants Handbook.

Temporary issues with 0800 2 LEGAL AID

17/05/2021 - Legal Aid Services is experiencing technical issues with the 0800 2 LEGAL AID number, which has meant that most calls to the line today have been unable to be answered.

A fix has been put in place but although the line is now operating again it is still not operating as it usually is. The message service has been turned off which means that you will not hear the usual greeting or be offered the preferred options when calling 0800 2 LEGAL AID. Instead, the line will ring and will be answered directly by a contact centre staff member.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Update on the outcome of the Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA) trial roster

6 May 2021 - In February 2021, the Ministry published two online surveys to get feedback from PDLA Providers and Police on the temporary changes that were introduced to the PDLA scheme over the holiday period (18 December 2020 - 11 January 2021).

We would like to take this opportunity to thank those that provided feedback.

Feedback on the trial indicated that the use of a nationwide roster improved current issues with the service, with Police finding it easier to contact PDLA lawyers over the trial period.

The Ministry will begin looking into how the administration of the system can be improved in the long term. The feedback that was provided on the trial will help form part of this review

Options for consideration will include remuneration, rostering approach and the possibility of implementing an 0800 number for the service.

We will update you as work on the review of the service progresses.

Criminal Cases Review Commission – update to granting process

16 April 2021 - We have reviewed the way that applications for the Criminal Cases Review Commission are granted and have updated the relevant information as below. These changes will take effect from 19 April 2021.

Changes to the Legal Aid Application questions
On the appeals section of the application form (at questions 29 -30) the application should now record:

  • that the matter is an application to the Commission
  • what the application seeks to address (conviction, sentence or conviction/sentence)
  • the relevant offence
  • the court of right of first appeal against the conviction
  • whether the interests of justice require a grant of legal aid, including:
    • confirmation that the eligible person has fully exercised their rights of appeal against the conviction or sentence
    • any other matter that is relevant.

Confirmation that the eligible person has fully exercised their rights of appeal against the conviction or sentence will usually satisfy the interests of justice assessment.

Changes to the Maximum Grant
If approved, aid will be granted in full and according to the criminal fixed fee schedules G (appeals to the High Court) or H (appeals to the Court of Appeal), depending on the court to which the Commission may refer the case. For applications that would be referred to the High Court the fee of ‘Making an application’ is $1000. For applications that would be referred to the Court of Appeal the fee is $1000 for trial counsel or $1600 for new counsel.

As is current process, if additional funding is required to prepare the application to the Commission, or to assist the applicant through the Commission’s process if it has made a decision to investigate, the provider must submit a request for an amendment to grant in the prescribed manner.

Legal Aid application forms updated due to the Privacy Act 2020

The wording on the legal aid application forms for criminal, family, civil and Waitangi matters has been updated to reflect the new Privacy Act 2020 coming into effect. The only change to the forms is to the wording change from referencing the Privacy Act 1993 to Privacy Act 2020.

Please make sure to submit all future legal aid applications on the updated forms.

Legal Services – Waikato Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court

In December 2019, the Minister announced the set-up of a new Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court in the Waikato. The Waikato AODT Court is planned to be operational in mid-June 2021.  The Court builds on the success of the pilot AODT Court in Auckland and Waitākere and aligns to the Chief District Court Judge’s Te Ao Mārama(external link) vision for the District Court.

The Legal Services - Waikato AODT Court [PDF, 298 KB] document provides information on the court, the role of the Defence Lawyer and the approach to support legal services.  We encourage Waikato Defence Lawyers and all legal professionals to read the information and get in touch with us at admin.AODTC@justice.govt.nz if you have any questions or need any additional information.

New addition to travel exceptions list

18 March 2021 - Due to a shortage of available providers, Hawera District Court has been added to the travel exceptions list for providers from New Plymouth and Whanganui for PAL 1 Criminal matters.

This means a provider may be assigned from outside the location where the proceeding is to be held and, subject to the disbursements policy, reasonable travel costs will be approved.

 The list has been updated in the grants handbook.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (12 March 2021)

12 March 2021– All of New Zealand has now moved to alert level 1. Accordingly, the updates on Legal Aid Services’ response to COVID-19 that have been published on the Ministry’s website since 1 March 2021 will no longer apply. This change will be effective from close of business on 15 March 2021.

This means that unless advised otherwise, legal aid polices on travel disbursements, duty lawyer invoicing, additional fees and signing of legal aid applications for will return to business as usual after 15 March 2021.

We thank you for your assistance and cooperation during this time, in continuing to deliver our essential and priority services.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (9 March 2021)

9 March 2021 – Auckland is now at Alert Level 2. The rest of Aotearoa New Zealand has returned to Alert Level 1.

Accordingly, the Legal Aid Services updates and policies introduced in response to COVID-19 that have been published on the Ministry's website on 1 March 2021 will no longer apply, except for those in the Auckland region. This change is effective from close of business, 9 March 2021.

For the Auckland region, the following policies still apply:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.
    • This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required, and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.
  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

Policies on duty lawyer payments and additional fees due to COVID-19 activities will no longer apply from close of business, 9 March 2021.

We thank you for your assistance and cooperation during this time, in continuing to deliver our essential and priority services.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (1 March 2021)

1/3/2021 - On behalf of Legal Aid Services I would like to update all legal aid providers on our response to last night’s announcement of a return to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Level 2 nationwide from 6am on 28 February 2021.

Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied under Alert Level 2 will apply nationwide. This means that:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.
  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:
    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or
    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.
    • This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required, and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.
  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

The Auckland Region is currently at alert level 3. In response, for those areas where Alert Level 3 applies, we are also re-instating relevant Legal Aid policy and process changes:

  • Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:
    There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.

Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant.

Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Duty lawyer Payments:
    When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.

We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.

We will continue to provide updates via ‘What’s New for Legal Aid Lawyers’. Thank you again for your continued cooperation.

Ngā mihi

Brett Dooley, Legal Services Commissioner

Co-ordinating Counsel for Waitangi Tribunal matters - Clarification

25 February 2021 - Once a Co-ordinating Counsel is designated by the Waitangi Tribunal, providers must contact Legal Aid to advise that they have been nominated to provide coordination and provide the legal aid file they choose to bill the Co-ordinating Counsel work to. It must also be a file that is assigned to the Co-ordinating Counsel as Lead Provider.

Co-ordinating Counsel is required to submit:

  • supporting evidence from the Tribunal confirming names of Co-ordinating Counsel
  • separate amendments to grant and invoices. This is because this work needs to be clearly delineated from any work they undertake as an individual counsel on claimant specific legal aid files.

Please refer to the Granting aid for Waitangi Tribunal matters: Operational policy (page 24-25)

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (22 February 2021)

22 February 2021– Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that Auckland will be moving to Alert Level 1 effective 11:59pm on 22 February 2021, the whole of New Zealand will be in Alert Level 1 from tomorrow. Accordingly, the updates on Legal Aid Services’ response to COVID-19 that have been published on the Ministry’s website since 15 February 2021 will no longer apply. This change will be effective from the 24 February 2021 onwards.

This means that unless advised otherwise, legal aid polices on travel disbursements, duty lawyer invoicing, additional fees and signing of legal aid applications for will return to business as usual from 24 February 2021.

We thank you for your assistance and cooperation during this time, in continuing to deliver our essential and priority services.

Legal Aid granting policy for Employment Relations Authority (ERA) proceedings

Legal Aid funding is available for counsel to complete and file a Statement of Problem, as part of the mediation step of ERA proceedings.

If a party refuses to attend mediation, a provider may claim the ‘Completion and filing of Statement of Problem’ fee if a direction is needed from the ERA that the parties should attend mediation. 

A provider does not need to have a full grant of legal aid to claim this fee, as the ERA requires a Statement of Problem to be filed to issue a direction for the parties to attend mediation.

Update on Legal Aid Services response to COVID-19 (15 February 2021)

15/02/2021 - On behalf of Legal Aid Services I would like to update all legal aid providers on our response to last night’s announcement of a return to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Level 2 nationwide.

Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied under Alert Level 2 will apply nationwide. This means that:

  • Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.

  • Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:

    • the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or

    • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

    • This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required, and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

  • Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

The Auckland Region is currently at alert level 3. In response, for those areas where Alert Level 3 applies, we are also re-instating relevant Legal Aid policy and process changes:

  • Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:
    There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.

    Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant.

    Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Duty lawyer Payments:
    When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.

    We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.

We will continue to provide updates via ‘What’s New for Legal Aid Lawyers’ and thank you for your continued cooperation.

Ngā mihi

Brett Dooley, Legal Services Commissioner

Survey for PDLA lawyers to provide feedback on the nationwide PDLA trial roster

10/02/2021- In 2020 the Ministry of Justice (the Ministry) received feedback indicating there may be opportunity for the Ministry to improve timely access to justice by making it easier for Police to contact Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA) lawyers.

In response to the feedback, and to ensure there was timely access to justice throughout the holiday period, the Ministry trialed a change to the PDLA service which ran from 18 December 2020 to 11 January 2021. During this trial, PDLA lawyers were rostered in six-hour shifts on one nationwide roster.

The Ministry is currently running a survey to get feedback on this trial from all PDLA providers. A link to the survey can be found below:

Survey for PDLA lawyers to provide feedback on the holiday period trial roster.(external link)

Legal Aid Services will be reviewing how the administration of the PDLA system can be improved in the longer term this year. Feedback given as part of this survey will help form part of this review.

If you are a PDLA provider, we would encourage you to provide feedback on the trial through the survey. The survey closes at 11:59 pm on 24 February 2020.

Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015

04/02/2021 - We have reviewed how legal aid may be granted for proceedings under the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015 (the Act). We have decided to make a change that will allow providers approved for PAL 2 criminal cases, as well as providers approved for general civil cases to be assigned some civil proceedings under this Act. The application for legal aid will continue to be made on the civil legal aid application form.

Civil proceedings

Someone who is subject to a determination under the Act that they meet the criteria of ‘returning prisoner’ may:

  1. respond to an application to the district court by the Department of Corrections to impose or vary special release conditions
  2. seek a review by the Commissioner of Police of the determination that they are a returning prisoner
  3. seek a judicial review of the determination.

A response to an application to impose or vary special release conditions and an application for Commissioner of Police review of a determination are civil proceedings and a civil legal aid application is required. However, lawyers approved for criminal legal aid may also have appropriate experience for these matters. Accordingly, providers who are approved for PAL2 criminal matters can accept cases where an applicant for legal aid wishes to:

  1. respond to a Department of Corrections’ application to impose or vary special release conditions
  2. seek a Commissioner of Police review of a determination that they are a returning prisoner.

A judicial review of the determination that someone is a returning prisoner would require a civil legal aid application and a provider who is approved for civil legal aid.

Criminal proceedings

A breach of a release condition under the Returning Offenders (Management Information) Act 2015 is an offence that is subject, on conviction, to a maximum term of imprisonment of 1 year or a fine not exceeding $2,000. A criminal legal aid application is required and, if eligible, a criminal legal aid lawyer will be assigned on rotation (RO(MI)A(external link))

Legal aid office

Applications should be sent to the legal aid office according to where the proceeding will be run. Applications for civil proceedings in the District Court in the Auckland and Northland regions should be sent to AKLCivillegalaid@justice.govt.nz. Otherwise to WGNCivillegalaid@justice.govt.nz.

Applications for criminal proceedings in the District Court in the Auckland and Northland regions should be sent to AKLCriminallegalaid@justice.govt.nz for. Otherwise to WGNCriminallegalaid@justice.govt.nz.

We have updated the grants handbook which you can read here.

Paternity cases update

04/02/2021 - To provide further clarification, there have been changes to legal aid policy regarding paternity cases.

See the changes below:

The legal aid application must provide evidence sufficient information of a dispute, that if not resolved, will require Court proceedings. The application must enable an assessment to be made of whether there are reasonable grounds for a party to take or defend a paternity proceeding. It is necessary that the information on the application summarises the dispute in a way which  enables an assessment to be made of whether there are reasonable grounds for a party to take or defend a paternity proceeding.

Such evidence information is likely to include:     

  • The identity of the putative father
  • Whether or not the putative father accepts he had sexual intercourse with the applicant about the time of conception
  • Whether there is any corroborative evidence to establish that the putative father was in a relationship with the applicant about the time of conception
  • Whether or not the putative father agrees to undergo DNA testing
  • Steps the legal aid applicant has taken to contact the putative father and ask these questions
  • Whether an application to the Court may be required…

This is an update to the paternity cases information posted on 22/10/2020 - Paternity Cases.

Temporary closure of Te Kuiti District Court

29/01/2021 - The Ministry of Justice has announced that Te Kuiti District Court is to be closed temporarily while repair work is carried out. The court will be closed from Monday 1 February 2021, and reopen on Monday 1 March 2021. While the court is closed, cases will be transferred to Te Awamutu District Court.

Travel disbursements

Our normal travel policies will continue to apply. Travel costs for legal aid providers who must do additional travel during this  period will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Criminal legal aid applications

When completing criminal legal aid applications, we ask that Duty Lawyers please specify Te Kuiti District Court on relevant application forms rather than the temporary court where the case has been transferred to. This is to enable grants staff to correctly assign providers from the Te Kuiti assignment lists.

Assignment of Cases

Providers on the assignment lists for Te Kuiti District Court will continue to be assigned cases on a rotational basis as per current practice. Please notify us at WGNCriminallegalaid@justice.govt.nz if you are unable to accept a newly assigned case.

Duty Lawyer Service

We will contact duty lawyers directly about any changes to the duty lawyer service roster.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Mileage rate increasing to $0.82 per km for invoices received from 1 February 2021

29/01/2021 – We are updating our mileage rate to align with the IRD rate. The new rate is $0.82 per kilometre for all vehicles.

To allow the new rate to be claimed as soon as possible, it will apply to all legal aid invoices received from 1 February 2021. However, to mitigate unnecessary administrative work, claims received after 1 February 2021 at the old rate can still be processed as claimed.

If you are using the Word template forms, please update the mileage rate. After the new rate has been recorded once, it will remember that going forward.

Wellington Legal Aid office closed Monday 25 January 2021

The Wellington Legal Aid office will be closed on Monday 25 January 2021, for Wellington Anniversary day.

Please send all applications serviced by the Wellington region on this date to WGNCriminallegalaid@justice.govt.nz as usual. Please email all applications as the fax machine will not be accessible during this time.

The Auckland Legal Aid office will process urgent criminal applications for all areas of the country received on this date.

The Contact Centre will remain open from 8am – 5pm. If you have an urgent Legal Aid query on 25 January, you can call 0800 2 LEGAL AID (0800 253 425).

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18/8/2021 – On behalf of Legal Aid Services I would like to update all legal aid providers on our response to the announcement of a return to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 nationwide from 11:59 pm on 17 August 2021.

Certain changes to Legal Aid policies which previously applied last year under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 will apply again nationwide. This means that for the duration of alert level 4:

·         Legal Aid will accept any applications that haven’t been signed by your client. Please sign any forms on their behalf and state the reason for not being able to obtain the signature and note this when submitting the form.

·          Providers who are working from home may claim expenses for travel between home and the Court, a place of detention or a Parole Board hearing venue where:

o   the distance is greater than 50 kilometres, or

o   the return travel time is greater than one hour.

 

This policy will only be available for one claim per day where an in-person appearance is required and will also apply to Duty Lawyers.

 

·         Legal Aid will be processing invoices from providers where preparation for a hearing/trial was undertaken and the event was not able to go ahead due to the changes in COVID-19 Alert Levels. These invoices can be submitted as normal and will be paid if appropriate.

·         Additional Fees due to COVID-19 Activities:

There may be additional services required because of the COVID-19 rules. For example, in family cases we understand you may have assisted with negotiation of care arrangements. In criminal cases, adjournments may have required additional communications with your client, the court and other agencies.

 

Where additional services have been provided to, or on behalf of your client, because of the lockdown we will approve up to 2 hours at your legal aid rate for the case without needing an amendment to grant.

Your invoice should briefly describe the additional services and reference the COVID-19 lockdown.

 

·         Duty lawyer Payments:

When a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim a minimum 2 hours, or the actual hours attended, if that is more than 2 hours.

 

We also understand that due to some hearings taken place via AVL, duty lawyers may be required to print disclosure or opposed bail paperwork. During this period, we will pay duty lawyers disbursements for printing at the standard rate of $0.10 per page.

 

 

·         As you know the Ministry frequently conducts audits of its contracted service providers. Although audits are an important means of ensuring the quality of the Ministry’s contracted services, they have not been confirmed as critical.  Legal Aid Services recognises that its providers in the community are themselves responding to these unprecedented events we are in and that it would be inappropriate to continue with the current audit programme at this time.

 

In making this decision the Ministry is also aware of the most recent advice concerning domestic travel and physical distancing practices.

 

For those reasons, all provider audits will be paused until further notice. If we require any further information from you regarding audits that are already underway, we will be in touch.

 

Please also note that the Chief Justice has announced that the courts will continue to receive filing of court documents and payment of fees in all proceedings, in accordance with usual arrangements for electronic filing and payment. During Alert level 4 the Court’s File & Pay tool will enable you to electronically file and pay for all proceedings. The tool can be accessed through the Courts of New Zealand site here,(external link) with any submissions being sent through to the relevant court registry. A filing fee will still be required for all filings, unless a fee waiver would otherwise be applicable.

We will continue to provide updates via ‘What’s New for Legal Aid Lawyers’. Thank you again for your continued cooperation.

Ngā mihi

Tracey Baguley, Legal Services Commissioner

Criminal Case Assignment Christmas and New Year availability

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