What's new for legal aid lawyers

New criminal legal aid application form

12/06/2018 - We are pleased to announce that we have finalised the new criminal legal aid application form.

A YouTube video(external link) explaining the new form is available, which covers consultation themes, changes to the form and how grants officers will process the form.

A message from Bryre Patchell, Group Manager, National Service Delivery, is included in the video. We would like to thank everyone who engaged with the review, and who has provided us with feedback throughout this process.

The new form is available in editable PDF on the Ministry’s website, under the forms page. Forms will be sent to the courts and Public Defence Service offices. The new form should be used from 25 June 2018, and printed copies may be ordered from Baseline Management from this date.

Update - Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017 Applications

12/06/2018 - Following the What’s New article of 27/03/2018 regarding applications under the Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017, we can provide updates in relation to legal aid for these proceedings.

A provider must be approved to provide family legal aid services; however, providers with a mental health approval can apply for and be given a limited family approval for proceedings under this Act. We have sought expressions of interest from providers, and have created a list which will be provided to all District Inspectors. They will refer customers to providers on the list so that the customer can obtain legal representation when being assessed under this Act.

We expect there to be a low number of these applications per year; to date we have received five applications. Due to the small number of cases, rosters are not required; however, we will review the need for these should the number of applications increase.

Applications should be made on the family and civil legal aid application form and grants will be managed as non-fixed fee family grants. Funding should be sought on the application form, or through an amendment to grant. Due to legislative requirements, these applications incur a user charge. If because of the customer’s state of health, financial information is not available, further information will not be sought, and proof of income is not required. If the customer does not have the capacity to sign the application, a signature is not required.

Changes to legal aid provider audit and monitoring policy

12/06/2018 - We recently sought feedback on proposed changes to the Legal Aid Provider Audit and Monitoring Policy (policy) and the Legal Aid Provider Audit Terms of Reference (terms of reference). These proposed changes add additional risk assessment metrics used during the provider selection process for the annual Quality and Value audit round. 

The consultation process is now complete, and several respondents provided feedback. We carefully considered suggestions supplied by the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Bar Association when determining the final policy and terms of reference. These changes will improve the transparency and efficiency of the auditing process.

A copy of our consultation response report and the updated audit policy and terms of reference can be found under Legal Aid lawyers, Audits and checks.

Criminal fixed fee review - third set of changes

23/05/2018 - In September 2014, the Legal Services Commissioner (the Commissioner) undertook a review of the criminal fixed fee schedules. The review concluded in December 2014 and identified a number of areas where improvements to the design and flexibility of the fee schedules could be made, as well as areas where gaps existed.

In October 2015, the Government approved an increase in legal aid funding, staged over financial years beginning 2016, 2017 and 2018, to enable the Commissioner to revise the criminal fee schedules.

The first set of revised fee schedules took effect on 4 July 2016, for new criminal grants of legal aid where the application was received between 4 July 2016 and 2 July 2017.

The second set were introduced on 3 July 2017 for new criminal grants of legal aid where the application was received between 3 July 2017 and 1 July 2018.

The third set applies to all new applications received on or after, Monday, 2 July 2018. The full set of 2018 schedules, which set out all fees including those that have not changed, are available on our website(external link).

A video presentation(external link) has been prepared with practical advice on working with the third set of changes. We encourage you to watch the presentation.

New PDF forms along with an updated installer package can be downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website from 25 June 2018.

Feedback on combined legal aid form consultation

10/05/2018 - In March, we consulted with legal aid providers about a proposed combined jurisdiction legal aid form. Thanks to all those who provided feedback.

We have decided to combine the application forms in the criminal jurisdiction, and keep them separate from the family and civil legal aid application form. We invite you to read the submissions and decisions document [PDF, 984 KB]

We welcome any feedback that you have on the proposed new criminal legal aid application form. The consultation page is located at consultations.justice.govt.nz (external link)and is open today. The consultation closes on 24 May 2018. After considering your feedback, we will then finalise the new form. 

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

Hearing time included in criminal grants letters

27/04/2018 - As an improvement to our service, we have recently upgraded our system to allow hearing time (if known) to be recorded for criminal cases. This means it will automatically be included in the initial grants letter to the provider, in addition to the hearing date and location.  

New PDLA form with increased rates available

27/04/2018 – As advised in the what's new of 19/04/2018, the remuneration rates for PDLA services are increasing. The new rates will apply to invoices received from Monday, 30 April 2018. The updated invoice form 13 and Word template package is now available on the forms page of the website.

Mental health roster review - update

27/04/2018 - Consultation on the mental health rosters review closed on 28 January 2018. Thank you to all of you who provided us with submissions. We received a large and varied amount of feedback which has been invaluable to this process.  

As we advised in the consultation document, we will be starting this review in Auckland, where we have already taken on drafting and issuing the periodic rosters. The status quo will remain for the Auckland region until a decision has been made and communicated. Decisions about other regions will be made later in the year.

We are undertaking further analysis and will be having discussions with the Ministry of Health before making final decisions.

Thank you again.

Police Detention Legal Assistance service remuneration increase

19/04/2018 - The Secretary for Justice has increased the remuneration rates for PDLA service providers. The new rates will be effective for all invoices received by Legal Aid Services on or after Monday, 30 April 2018, as follows:

  • telephone attendances at $75 per phone call
  • day time attendances at $53 per half hour
  • after-hours attendances at $79.50 per half hour

The telephone attendance rate has been increased to acknowledge the disruption caused to the providers when making these important attendances most of which occur after-hours, and to the ensure the continued viability of the service. The face-to-face attendance rates have been aligned with existing criminal fee rates to achieve consistency across the jurisdiction.

Invoice form 13 is being updated with the changes and will be available for download on the Ministry’s website prior to the effective date.

Moving forward the Ministry of Justice will also be undertaking a review of the PDLA rosters and lists of providers, as well as reviewing the scheme to make further improvements to the service for our customers and providers.

Combined jurisdiction legal aid form - consultation closing 12 April 2018

10/04/2018 - This is a reminder that consultation on the combined jurisdiction legal aid form will close on 12 April 2018. The consultation page is located at: 

consultations.justice.govt.nz/osd/combined-jurisdiction-legal-aid-form(external link)

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

Six-month invoicing timeframes

10/04/2018 - This is a reminder about Legal Aid Service’s 6-month invoicing timeframes. Fixed fee claims must be made 6 months from the date after all fixed fee services under the case are completed. Non-fixed fee claims for a service must be made 6 months from the day after the service is provided.

Depending on the circumstances, Legal Aid Services may decline claims made outside these timeframes.

Section 15 reports - Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

10/04/2018 - A provider’s attendance relating to a Section 15 report of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 is covered under the fixed fee for Pre-hearing matters of $620. Where a provider feels this fee is insufficient to cover related costs the provider may submit an amendment to grant.

Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017 Applications  

27/03/2018 - The Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017 came into force on 21 February 2018, and replaced the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966.

Family legal aid is available for review proceedings under this Act. These applications will be managed as a non fixed fee grant. Funding should be sought on the application form or through an amendment to grant.

If financial information is not available, further investigation will not be sought. Proof of income is not required. If the customer does not have the capacity to sign the application a signature is not required.

We are currently looking at options as to how these cases can be allocated to providers. If you are interested in being on a list of lawyers available for these cases, please email NSDOpsSupport@justice.govt.nz. A list of available providers may then be given to local District Inspectors to assist clients to obtain legal representation. A family provider approval is required; however, we are exploring whether family approvals limited to these cases can be given to mental health providers who would like to do this work.

More information about the Act is available at health.govt.nz(external link)

Registering unavailability to receive rotational assignments 

27/03/2018 - With the Easter holidays almost upon us, we are aware that providers may be planning some additional leave days.  Please remember if you will be unavailable to accept rotational assignments during this period we need you to inform us by completing the Criminal Case Assignment Availability form or by detailing your unavailability in writing. The completed form or written notification should be sent by email to the Provider Services team legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz.

Extended closing date on application form consultation

21 March 2018 - The timeline for consultation on the application for legal aid form has been extended. The Consultation Hub will now close on 12 April 2018. This is due to the fact that Easter holidays falls into this period and we want to extend the time available to enable quality feedback.

 The consultation page is located at consultations.justice.govt.nz(external link) 

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

Combined jurisdiction legal aid form 

16 March 2018 - as you may be aware, Legal Aid Services reviewed the family and civil legal aid application form late last year. After successful implementation of this new form,  an opportunity has been identified to review the current application forms in the criminal jurisdiction. Within this review, the Legal Services Commissioner is proposing to combine the family/civil application form with the criminal application forms. These are:

  • Form 1 Crown Prosecution
  • Form 1a Police Prosecution
  • Form 12 Court of Appeal or Supreme Court.

I would welcome your feedback as it will help ensure the new form is fit for purpose and meets the needs of our customers, providers and Legal Aid Services. The consultation page is located at consultations.justice.govt.nz(external link) and is open today.

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

Approval and payment for midwife certificates

8 March 2018 - where a midwife certificate is required for a family legal aid case, the disbursement is pre-approved and no amendment to grant is required. Legal Aid Services’ disbursement policy on medical reports states:

‘Medical report in this context means reports prepared by registered medical practitioners, dental practitioners, nursing and allied health staff (eg physiotherapist)’.

Midwives are considered to be ‘nursing and allied health staff’.  

Emails to Legal Aid Services

8 March 2018 - Legal Aid Services are always looking for ways to improve our processes which enhance our customer and stakeholder experiences. As you are aware, in September 2017 Legal Aid Services transitioned to several new email inboxes to streamline the flow of work. Often, we find that emails are being submitted with several different attachments included, which makes it difficult to prioritise our work.

We are seeking your assistance and ask that, where possible, you do not include multiple different attachments to one email. For example, if you are sending invoices, please do not include applications as an attachment to the same email. Likewise, if you are sending through an application, please attach that application only. Additionally, if the application is urgent, please type the word URGENT in the subject line.

Email is our preferred method of receiving applications, invoices, ATGs etc. and we ask that where possible, you use this as the primary and only channel. We appreciate at times you may need to fax or post information to us but, please only use one of these methods. It is not necessary to email or fax and then post the original document to us.

In addition to this request, we also ask that the primary communication channel used with Legal Aid Services is the appropriate generic inbox, we have listed these below as a reminder. Email correspondence directly with individual staff is not best practice and promotes a single person dependency.

Whilst there may be occasions where quick and urgent communication may be required on a one to one basis, this should be the exception and must be reserved for time critical matters.

Wellington Email

Auckland Email

Family and civil application form – reminder

Please remember that all applications for civil, family or mental health proceedings must now be on the new family and civil application form, regardless of when the client has signed and dated it. The new form is not available as part of the Microsoft Word installer package, however the following options are available:

Reminder – consultation on proposed changes to mental health rosters

19 January 2018 - this is a reminder that we are currently undergoing consultation on proposed changes to mental health rosters and the way mental health cases are assigned to providers.

To view the consultation paper and have your say please visit our consultation hub(external link). Consultation is open until Sunday, 28 January 2018.

Specialist reports fixed fee - Lawyer for Child reports

19 January 2018 - the Specialist Reports fixed fee ($190) can now be claimed when any Lawyer for Child report is filed at court.  Legal Aid Services does not require proof that this has been judge directed.

Wellington Anniversary Day

19 January 2018 - the Wellington Legal Aid office will be open on 22nd January 2018  which is Wellington Anniversary Day.  We have a reduced, but sufficient number of staff available on the day. This will ensure that we appropriately manage incoming work from around the country to meet our timeliness standards.

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