Legal Aid Pulls Funding for Solicitors

In Victoria, Justice Betty King said she was frustrated lawyers seemed to be playing political games when a man’s fair trial was at stake.  Counsel for the defendant has applied for a stay of the trial because legal aid funding for an instructing solicitor has not been secured for the duration of the trial.

Under tight new guidelines, Victoria Legal Aid pays for an instructing solicitor only for trial preparation and to appear at trial for two half-days. The services of a junior barrister can be sought if the case is complex.

The defence counsel unsuccessfully applied for a junior barrister to assist him during the trial.

An independent person – a retired County Court judge – will now review that decision.

Meanwhile, the future of the trial hangs in the balance.

The stay application was the third request to delay a major Supreme Court trial.

Justices Lex Lasry and Terry Forrest have already stayed separate criminal trials due to the Legal Aid funding fiasco.

Justice Betty King was expecting to be informed if a VLA review had granted the barrister involved in the attempted murder trial a second barrister to assist.

Instead she was forced to criticise a letter sent by the barrister’s solicitor that stated a second barrister was not wanted.

Full Story here.