04/10/2018 - The Ministry of Justice takes its customers’ privacy seriously and works hard to ensure their information is kept secure.
In preparation for Cyber Smart Week(external link) (8-12 October 2018), we want to remind you of our expectations when you deal with legal aid client information. These expectations are also held by the Law Society in its own guidance(external link) for practitioners.
Where information is stored electronically, there are some minimum standards we would expect all providers to observe. They include:
We also recommend using encryption software on all devices and installing mobile device management suites with remote-wipe functionality to enable deletion of data from lost or stolen devices.
We will shortly be running a survey about the privacy and information security practices of current legal aid lawyers, and we encourage all providers to participate. A link will be available to complete this soon.
28/09/2018 - From 1 October all inbound telephone enquiries for Legal Aid Grants should be made to 0800LEGALAID (0800253425). The change is being made to support managing inbound telephone calls consistently nationally. Thank you for your support as we make these changes.
10/09/2018 – We are currently experiencing issues with the legal aid computer system, which is affecting the work that can be done by grants officers. Legal aid applications are being processed outside of the system and priority is given to criminal and urgent family applications.
All efforts are being made to resolve the issue as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience during this time and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
06/09/2018 - The Ministry has implemented a new legal aid debt management system over the weekend of 18/19 August. The new system has improved modern communication functionality so you may notice a difference in the way we communicate with you and your clients. In general, fewer letters will be generated with a greater focus on sending correspondence by email.
27/08/2018 – We are updating our mileage rate to align with the IRD rate. The new rate is $0.76 per kilometre, for all vehicles including electric cars. IRD has not re-issued a separate rate for electric cars. To allow the new rate to be claimed as soon as possible, the new rate will apply to all legal aid invoices received from 3 September 2018. However, to mitigate unnecessary administrative work, claims received after 3 September at the old rate can still be processed as claimed. If you are using the Word template forms, after the new rate has been recorded once, it will remember the last rate you recorded for the next form you record on.
23/08/2018 – Earlier this year we consulted with you on the mental health rosters. We received a large and varied amount of feedback which has been invaluable to this process. We advised after the consultation that we would be undertaking further analysis and having discussions with the Ministry of Health before making final decisions. That work is reaching a conclusion and we will be publishing decisions in the next 4 – 5 weeks.
23/08/2018 - This a reminder that the fixed fee ‘Preliminary work – when additional charges are added’ may be claimed each time a charge is added. This is intended to cover each instance of a charge or charges being added, irrespective of the number of charges.
09/08/2018 - Our Legal Aid forms provider Baseline has recently updated their online ordering system. Legal aid forms can be ordered from their new website.(external link)
Baseline have emailed users new login details for the updated site. You will need to use these details to access the new site and order printed forms. An instruction guide for using the new site can be found on the Legal Aid forms page.
26/07/2018 - The matter types in legal aid letters are being updated to align with the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, which was previously the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989. This change will apply to letters about applications received from 1 August 2018.
The grants handbook and fee schedule have also been updated. Form 31 (CYP invoice) will be updated in the future.
26/07/2018 - The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking its triennial review of the legal aid policy settings, and would like to hear from legal aid lawyers on the issues you are experiencing with legal aid and how these issues could be addressed.
The Ministry has advised that any feedback will help to inform an initial issues papers and a report to the Minister of Justice. There will be further opportunity to provide feedback on the draft issues papers in due course. See the Combined Legal Aid Review Information Sheet for LawPoints [PDF, 461 KB] for more information.
12/07/2018 - We have made some updates to the Family proceedings steps for Mental Health, so that the document accurately reflects our practice for repeat instructions. This update confirms that rates are not discounted for repeat instructions, for separate steps, by the same provider for the same applicant within the specified time-frames. You can view the updated Family proceedings steps on the Ministry’s website, under the Family proceeding steps [PDF, 632 KB].
12/07/2018 - We have been made aware of some issues regarding the new criminal form jamming when it is being scanned. When scanning the new form, do not scan with the perforated corner entering the scanner first.
If you are having trouble scanning the form, to avoid having the form jam you should scan either with the bottom or the right side (the side without the perforated corner) of the form entering the scanner first. Once you have scanned the form, it can be adjusted to the correct way up using the View>Rotate view settings in Adobe Acrobat.
12/07/2018 - The results of the 2016-17 audit programme have been collated and summarised in a new report available on our website. The report notes that of the 85 audits completed, 70 (or 82%) were rated as “acceptable” or above.
This is indicative of the high quality of legal services offered by legal aid lawyers across the board. The report also uses a qualitative analysis to identify the five main practice themes and comments on common areas of strength and areas for improvement. You can read the report on our website, under Audits and Checks.
06/07/2018 - In the ‘What’s New’ of 29 June 2018 we advised you about a change to the policy on travel for duty lawyers to allow non-local travel to be claimed where the duty lawyer is on the duty lawyer roster for a court.
We want to clarify that non-local travel for the duty lawyer service is defined as travel involving a return trip from the provider’s normal place of work to the travel destination where:
29/06/2018 - This is a reminder that the third set of changes resulting from the Legal Services Commissioner’s review of the criminal legal aid fee schedules are being introduced on Monday, 2 July 2018, for new applications received on or after 2 July 2018.
More information about the changes is available in this video presentation (external link)for legal aid providers and our article of 23 May 2018. The new PDF forms are now available on the Ministry of Justice website.
29/06/2018 - The duty lawyer travel policy will be amended from 2 July 2018 to allow non-local travel (defined as a return trip of over 50km or more than one hour) to be claimed where the duty lawyer is on the duty lawyer roster for a court.
This change will apply to any invoices received from 2 July 2018. When the change has been implemented we will also progressively review the duty lawyer rosters to ensure national consistency.
29/06-2018 - As part of our ongoing commitment to reducing complexity and making it easier for our customers and our providers to access justice services we have implemented a new disbursement type for family cases. ‘Judge directed drug testing’ covers both the drug test and the report.
It is pre-approved and payable on an actual and reasonable basis with a GST invoice/receipt to support the claim. This means providers in family cases will not need to submit an amendment to grant prior to arranging or claiming for drug testing where it is directed by a Judge.
The new disbursement type is effective immediately but to claim it, until the invoice forms are updated, use the space on the forms for prior-approval disbursements and write ‘Judge directed drug testing’, and the GST exclusive amount. Where drug testing is not Judge directed, an amendment to grant is required as it is now.
20/06/2018 - Following our communications last week, the new criminal legal aid form is now available online for ordering.
You can order printed legal aid forms from Baseline under the legal aid forms page. Orders are normally sent within 7 days.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
If you have any questions during the consultation, please feel free to contact Robert Ives, Service Delivery Manager at Robert.Ives@justice.govt.nz
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.
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.
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)
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 email@example.com.
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.
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:
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
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’.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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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