Barristers make an important and specialist contribution to the provision of legal aid. This year we implemented changes to assist with equitable briefing practices and other quality initiatives in our work with barristers.

In previous years barristers were briefed and paid directly by solicitor firms, with funds provided for this purpose under a grant of legal assistance. This meant payment records were not collected or held by Victoria Legal Aid.

In September 2013 Victoria Legal Aid commenced direct payment to barristers, once private practitioners authorised and submitted online claims that work had been performed. In November 2013 this practice became mandatory and, following the support of the Law Institute of Victoria, has been adopted by practitioners.

Our partnerships – barristers

Includes all costs paid including circuit fees, travelling cost and other expenses

  Private practittioner assigned Victoria Legal Aid assigned Total
Total all barrister payments $10.6 million $3.5 million $14.1 million

Direct payments to barristers by area of law

In 2014–2015, Victoria Legal Aid paid $14.1 million to barristers across the state. This included more than $9 million for criminal law matters, $4.4 million for family law matters and $336,076 for civil law matters.

Area of law Payments to barristers % of total
Criminal $9.4 million 66.7%
Family $4.4 million 30.9%
Civil $0.3 million 2.4%

Direct payments to barristers – criminal matters

Type of work Payments to barristers % of total
Appellate Crime $0.5 million 5.2%
Indictable Crime $5.1 million 53.9%
Sex Offences $1.7 million 17.6%
Summary Crime $1.6 million 16.8%
Youth Crime $0.6 million 6.5%

Of the $9.4 million paid to barristers for criminal matters, almost $5 million was for ‘significant work’, including County and Supreme Court trials, County and Supreme Court pleas, contested committals and serious sex offender supervision contests. This figure represents payments for preparation and time in court and does not include peripheral costs associated with the case that the barrister may have incurred, including any preliminary hearings.

Direct payments to barristers for family-related matters

Type of work Payments to barristers % of total
Family Dispute Resolution Service $0.4 million 9.4%
Child Protection $1.5 million 35.0%
Family Violence $0.4 million 8.9%
Family Law Financial Support $0.02 million 0.4%
Independent Children's Lawyers $1.4 million 31.7%
Parenting Disputes $0.6 million 14.6%

Direct payments to barristers for civil-related matters

Type of work Payments to barristers % of total
Commonwealth Entitlements $0.05 million 16.2%
Equality $0.03 million 8.8%
Mental Health & Disability $0.03 million 9.5%
Migration $0.1 million 28.4%
Social inclusion $0.1 million 37.1%