2018 archive

On this page:

Message from the Manager Legal Aid Services

13/12/2018 - On behalf of Legal Aid Services I would like to thank you for your hard work and commitment to legal aid and to our customers this year! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-Tracey Baguley, Manager Legal Aid Services

Family Legal Advice Service not available for Oranga Tamariki proceedings

13/12/2018 - It has recently come to our attention that a small number of Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS) providers may be using the service for disputes involving Oranga Tamariki (OT). While we understand why advice may be given at an initial stage of proceedings with OT, Unfortunately the scope of FLAS does not include these disputes.

Please review the Operational Policy available on the Family Legal Advice Service page, specifically our description of a relevant dispute:

“A relevant dispute includes those that, if unresolved, may result in applications made under Care of Children Act… The service is not intended to support applications made Without Notice as they are exempt from the out of court process.”

At FLAS stage 1 the purpose is to advise clients of what to expect in the family justice system so matters can be resolved out-of-court. At stage 2 the purpose is to assist in filling out forms or notices of response for parenting or guardianship orders. We do not consider advice on proceedings involving OT would fit the description of either stage.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the Provider Services (Legal Aid) team at legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz

Amendment to grant forms and high cost cases policy

06/12/2018 - An opportunity has been identified to review the current high cost case policy and amendment to grant forms. Within this review, the Ministry is proposing to combine the current eleven forms into three to mirror the application forms (Criminal, Civil/Family and Waitangi). The Waitangi amendment to grant form will stay the same.

I would welcome your feedback as it will help ensure the new form is fit-for-purpose and meets the needs of our customers and providers. The consultation page is located at the link below and is open today until 18 January 2019.

Legal Aid High Cost Case policy & Amendment to Grant form changes survery(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

Arrangements when duty lawyers are unable to attend on a rostered day

06/12/2018 – A reminder that when a duty lawyer is unable to attend court on their rostered day, the duty lawyer must follow the appropriate procedure to arrange a replacement as soon as possible.

For courts with no PDS supervisors, the duty lawyer is responsible for finding a replacement. You must advise Legal Aid (at rostersDL@justice.govt.nz) and the court who the replacement will be in advance.

For courts that have PDS supervisors, you must contact the PDS duty lawyer supervisor as soon as possible. The supervisor will either:

advise the duty lawyer that the supervisor will arrange for a replacement;request the duty lawyer to take responsibility for finding a replacement and discuss acceptable options for replacement; oradvise the duty lawyer that they do not see the need for a replacement because of the expected workload at the court.

For the full policy on arranging a replacement, including court specific instructions for those courts with PDS supervisors, refer to the Duty Lawyer page.

Accommodation Disbursements

06/12/2018 - We have reviewed our policy for the maximum amount approved for necessary travel requiring an overnight stay. Previously the maximum amount that could be approved for overnight accommodation and meals was $182.60.

After considering the increased price of accommodation, especially in the main cities we have increased the maximum amount for overnight accommodation and meals to $226.05. You can read more about this disbursement on page 120 of the grants handbook.

07/12/2018 - The new maximum applies to new invoices received from 10/12/2018.

Grants handbook for legal aid lawyers

Family Violence Legislation Takes Effect

29/11/2018 - New family violence legislation was assented on 6 November, bringing a stronger focus on victim safety and perpetrator accountability to the Justice response to family violence.

Changes that strengthen criminal law by making changes to three existing laws – the Crimes Act 1961; the Evidence Act 2006; the Bail Act 2000 -- come into effect on 3 December this year.

Three new offences under the Crimes Act take effect from 3 December. They criminalise behaviours and practices that are common but have not been able to be prosecuted as family violence.

There is no change to legal aid processes.

The new offences are:

  • Strangulation or suffocation, maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment
  • Assault on a person in a family relationship, maximum two years
  • Coerced marriage or civil union, maximum 5 years.

The new offence of strangulation recognises that attempts to stop a person from breathing by strangulation or suffocation is a significant risk factor for future violence and lethality.

Strangulation has serious physical consequences for the victim which can show up days after the incident. It is always serious, even if there are no immediate and obvious visible marks or bruises.

The new offence of assault on a person in a family relationship reflects the diverse nature of family violence offending and sits alongside existing offences of male assaults female and assault on a child.

The new offence of coerced marriage or civil union applies whether the marriage occurs in New Zealand or overseas.

Changes to the Evidence Act make it easier for victims of family violence to give evidence via a video recording made before the hearing. It must be made by a Police employee no later than two weeks after the alleged family violence incident.

Previously, complainants had to argue to have evidence heard via video. Under the new legislation the defendant has to argue against it. These changes have been introduced to help reduce trauma and improve the court experience for victims of family violence as they will only have to describe what happened once.

Defence counsel will be given access to the victim’s video statement via a secure link sent to their email account.

Police are already using video evidence in some districts, such as Counties Manukau. It won’t start in all districts in December, but will be rolled out in each Police district as capacity allows.

Changes to the Bail Act prioritise the safety of the victims and family when deciding whether or not to grant bail, and on what conditions, for a defendant charged with a family violence offence.

The Ministry of Justice website has more information under Key Initiatives: A new Family Violence Act

Legal services for mental health patients

29/11/2018 - Following the Ministry of Justice’s consultation process earlier this year, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice have made some decisions around the rostering and administration of legal services for mental health patients. The final decisions document is linked below. It includes final decisions from the review and guidelines for how the rosters will be managed.

Final Decisions - Mental Health Rosters [PDF, 448 KB]

It provides a framework for ensuring mental health patients have access to appropriate legal representation when needed by ensuring an approved legal aid lawyer will be available to accept a referral within the necessary timeframe.

The guidelines include some content that is specific to the Auckland region and may be added to in the future if LAS takes over the rosters in other regions.

The new procedures will apply in the Auckland region from 14 January 2019 when the next roster commences. We will be implementing the procedures in other regions during 2019.

Thank you for your support while we implement the new procedures.

Pre-sentence reports

29/11/2018 - A reminder that reviewing a probation officer’s pre-sentence report is included in the sentencing fixed fee. It should not be claimed separately as a sentencing report. The granting notes expressly exclude probation reports from the fixed fee for expert witness/reports. The fee for ‘any other court-ordered reports’ provides for other non-routine reports. It is not intended to cover probation reports. The fixed fee schedule is available from our website and can be found via the link below.

Criminal Fixed Fee schedules [PDF, 753 KB]

Legal Aid Triennial Review

29/11/2018 - The Ministry has completed this year’s review of legal aid policy settings, and the Minister of Justice is considering his response. Any changes arising from the review are expected to be announced by mid-2019, and implemented by mid-2020.

As part of the review we also received some feedback with regards to operational improvements that can be made to streamline processes and procedures for providers and customers. We are pleased to advise that Legal Aid Services are currently working on a review of Amendments to Grants and the High Cost case framework and they will be coming out to consult with providers in the next few weeks. Legal Aid will also be reviewing their complaints, audit and approval processes and this work will be starting in the new year. Thanks again to everyone who provided submissions during the review either by attendance at the roadshow or via written communication.

Criminal case assignment – Christmas, New Year availability

08/11/2018 - The end of the year is fast approaching! If you have any leave planned over the holiday season, please complete the criminal case assignment availability form and email it to legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz by Friday 23th November 2018. The criminal case assignment availability form can be found via the link below.

Criminal case assignment availability form

This will allow us to identify any areas where provider coverage may be limited and will ensure that you do not get disturbed unnecessarily during your break.

Also, a quick reminder for any future unavailability dates, please email your criminal case assignment availability form to legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz.

Cut-off date for invoices reminder

08/11/2018 – This is a reminder about the cut-off date for invoices to be paid before the holidays. As we approach the end of the year Legal Aid would like to ensure that it processes all provider invoices as seamlessly as possible. Please ensure that you submit all invoices as early as possible to avoid disappointment prior to the Christmas break.

Friday 30th November will be the cut-off date for payment of invoices prior to the holiday season. Invoices received after this date, may be processed and paid, but we will not be able to guarantee this.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Cut-off date for invoices

1/11/2018 - As we approach the end of the year Legal Aid would like to ensure that it processes all provider invoices as seamlessly as possible. Please ensure that you submit all invoices as early as possible to avoid disappointment prior to the Christmas break.

Friday 30th November will be the cut-off date for payment of invoices prior to the holiday season. Invoices received after this date, may be processed and paid, but we will not be able to guarantee this.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Criminal assignment reports

25/10/2018 -We have now published the ‘Criminal Legal Aid assignments – information & criminal case reports’ from:

  • December 2016 to June 2017
  • July 2017 to June 2018

The assignment reports show all criminal legal aid assignments made for the period. It includes preferred, reassignments and rotational assignments. This report should not be used to compare rotational assignments between providers.

To view the reports and for further information on rotational assignments please visit the Criminal legal aid assignments page.

Legal aid payments published

25/10/2018 - The Ministry of Justice has published information on legal aid payments to firms in the 2017/18 financial year.

Acting Legal Services Commissioner Sarah Turner says the data shows payments to 1,205 firms whose legal aid lawyers undertook work on a range of cases in the criminal, civil and family courts and a number of specialist courts and tribunals. The Ministry’s Annual Report shows $160 million was spent on legal aid, an increase of $16 million on the year before.

“Legal aid ensures people who cannot pay for a lawyer are provided with legal representation in court. We pro-actively publish this information once a year to ensure transparency and accountability of the spending of what is a significant amount of public money.”

There are currently about 1900 lawyers approved to provide legal aid services working for firms or for themselves, as a firm in their own right.

You can view the report on the page Legal aid payments to firms.

Minimum claims for duty lawyers over the holiday period

18/10/2018 - We have recently received queries about arrangements for duty lawyers who are required to be on-call over the holiday period from 23 December 2018 through to 8 January 2019.

In response we have decided to allow a 2-hour minimum claim for the duty lawyer service over that period. On any day from 23 December 2018 through to 8 January 2019, when a duty lawyer is rostered to be available for the duty lawyer service, he or she may claim 2 hours, or the actual hours, if that is more than 2 hours.

This does not apply where a duty lawyer is rostered on but cannot attend and finds a replacement, or attends for less than 2 hours and excuses themselves to attend a private matter. This policy is temporary and will apply only for this holiday period.

Urgent Criminal Assignments

18/10/2018 - This is a reminder that accepting an assignment that is subsequently reassigned to another provider does not affect rotational assignments. For example, in arrest courts where the court location is likely to change, an urgent assignment may be accepted for an opposed bail then a reassignment is sought for a provider at another location to continue the case. When this happens our system subtracts the case from the first provider’s count so that they are in the same position they were before accepting the urgent assignment.

Mental Health Review Tribunal

18/10/2018 - Please note that from 1 November 2018 the new contact details for the Mental Health Review Tribunal are:

Phone: 0800 114 645

Fax: 04 890 7301

Email: secretariat@mhrt.co.nz

Privacy obligations with electronic information

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 for practitioners(external link).

Where information is stored electronically, there are some minimum standards we would expect all providers to observe. They include:

  • Using strong passwords(external link) of at least 10 characters that include numbers, capital letters and other characters;
  • Using two-factor authentication to access all email accounts and information stored in the cloud;
  • Encrypting any USB that is used to transfer data before it is used;
  • Installing anti-virus software on all devices, regularly running virus scans, and virus- scanning all downloaded files;
  • Being aware of how to identify and protect against cyber scams such as phishing attacks; and
  • Ensuring data is regularly backed up to avoid loss of data from ransomware attacks.

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.

Please visit the CertNZ website(external link) for helpful tips on cyber security. The Provider Services (Legal aid) team are also available to assist at legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz.

Enquires for Legal Aid Grants

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.

Legal aid system issue

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.

New legal aid debt management system

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.

Mileage rate changing to $0.76 per km for invoices received from 3 September 2018

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.

Mental health roster review – update

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.

Criminal ‘additional charges’ fixed fee

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.

Baseline update for ordering printed legal aid forms online

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.

CYPF matters updating to Oranga Tamariki in legal aid letters

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.

Legal Aid review – Ministry of Justice meetings with practitioners

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.

Mental Health Proceeding steps

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]

Scanning the new criminal form

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.

Audit Results and Practice Themes

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.

Clarification for duty lawyer travel

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:

  • the return distance is greater than 50 kilometres OR
  • the return travel time is greater than one hour.

Criminal fixed fee review – third set of changes

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.

Duty Lawyer Travel - policy change

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.

Pre-approved Judge directed drug testing in family cases

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.

Update – New Criminal legal aid application form now available on Baseline

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.

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.

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 ProsecutionForm
  • 1a Police ProsecutionForm
  • 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

19/01/2018 - 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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