Checks & audits

Quality assurance checks

We can carry out quality assurance checks to ensure legal aid providers are delivering services efficiently and effectively, in accordance with their obligations.

Where a quality assurance check identifies that a lawyer may not be complying with their obligations, we can refer the lawyer to an audit, our complaints process, or the legal aid performance review committee.

Find out more in our auditing and monitoring policy [PDF, 960 KB]


We conduct regular audits of legal aid lawyers to assess the quality and value of the services they deliver.

Find out more in the Legal Services Act 2011:
(external link)

  • section 91 provides the authority to conduct audits
  • section 92 sets out compliance requirements.

Lawyers are selected for quality and value audits based on an assessment of their risk profile. Risk factors include the level legal aid earnings, numbers of legal aid cases, whether complaints or adverse comments have been substantiated and any other concerns about the provider. The number of audits we conduct each year is listed in the Ministry’s statement of intent.

Audits can include an assessment of the legal aid lawyer’s compliance with the legal aid practice standards, any conditions of their approval, the terms of the contract to provide legal aid services, and applicable Ministry policies.

We can also carry out special audits, which are in-depth examinations of a legal aid lawyer’s processes and procedures, generally in relation to specific areas of concern.

The audit and monitoring policy describes the Ministry’s auditing and processes.

Terms of reference for quality and value audits [PDF, 820 KB] sets out the standard terms of reference for an audit of the quality and value of legal services.

Good practice themes

In 2015 we published a report entitled High Quality Legal Aid Services - Good Practice Themes from Audits. This report presents results from audits of legal aid lawyers undertaken between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015, focusing  on the 31 reports with ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’ results. We chose to focus on the best results because we wanted to provide positive feedback to the legal profession in order to acknowledge and reinforce evidence-based good practice.

Our Provider Services team undertook a qualitative analysis of the excellent and very good audit reports. What emerged was the set of recurrent good practice themes. These themes describe good legal aid practice and what high quality looks like, in the collective view of our auditors.

Good practice themes from audits - summary [PDF, 549 KB]

Good practice themes from audits [PDF, 466 KB]

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