Solicitor of Choice
An applicant for legal assistance may request a solicitor of his or her choice. Generally, the Commission will give effect to the client’s choice. The Commission will not give effect to a client’s choice of practitioner if–
- the chosen practitioner is not a member of the General Panel and, if applicable, the appropriate specialist panel; or
- the practitioner holds a restricted practising certificate and the matter is one that will only be assigned to a practitioner holding an unrestricted practising certificate (see Restricted Practising Certificates); or
- in the opinion of the Director, such an assignment would not be in the interests of the client; or
- the assignment would be inefficient or uneconomic.
Funding for the transfer of a matter to a new legal practitioner, if applied for between conviction and sentencing for the purpose of sentencing submissions, will be refused, unless special circumstances, as determined by the Director, apply to the matter.
If a client does not request a particular solicitor, and aid is granted, the matter will, if possible, be assigned in-house. If the matter cannot be assigned in-house, the matter will be granted to a private practitioner on the appropriate Legal Aid Panel who has indicated a willingness to accept assignments in that particular area of law.
The practitioner will be selected, in the vast majority of cases, by geographical considerations, (particularly rural and outer suburban areas) where practitioners have indicated that they service a particular court, or their office is closest to where the applicant resides. In other instances, practitioners will be selected as having a particular expertise in the relevant area of law, or availability at short notice.
Appeals against refusal to grant aid
If a practitioner does not receive approval to act then that practitioner can request a reconsideration and will be accorded a right of appeal to the Commission Appeal Committee. The Appeal Committee may uphold or change the decision of the Grants Officer. See Appeals.