Note: The lawyer is not required to assess eligibility under this guideline. Grants under this guideline are assessed by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and allocated to practitioners on the independent children's lawyer (ICL) panel.
VLA may make a grant of assistance for a child to be represented by an ICL in litigation relating to international child abduction where:
- a court orders separate representation of the child and asks us to appoint an ICL
- we decide that it is reasonable in the circumstances to make a grant of assistance for separate representation of the child.
ICLs may also get assistance for time-limited ongoing work necessary for the implementation of orders.
Following allocation of the matter to an ICL, we will put a grant of assistance in place through our online lodgment service ATLAS. Lawyers will then be able to submit extension applications via ATLAS in the usual way ensuring that evidence supporting the extension is kept on the file.
For information about fees available for a grant under this guideline, see Fee table 4.2.
Appearing and instructing as an ICL
The ICL is encouraged to appear as solicitor advocate at final hearings, but is not required to do so.
Where the ICL has briefed counsel to appear at the final hearing, we may provide a limited instructing fee for the ICL to instruct at key points of the final hearing where it is essential for the ICL to form an opinion as to what is in the child’s best interests based on the evidence.
Contribution to the cost of repr esentation by an ICL
When making a grant of assistance for an ICL, we will consider the ability of the parties to the dispute to contribute to the associated costs. This includes costs associated with preparation of a family report and the professional costs and disbursements associated with the grant of legal assistance for the ICL.
We may determine an amount to be paid by each party, taking into account their:
- capacity to pay
- legally assisted status, and
- contributions assessed to pay in other legally assisted matters.
The requirement for parties to contribute to the costs of an ICL does not apply to proceedings relating to special medical procedures involving a child, regardless of whether any of the parties to the proceedings is in receipt of a grant of legal assistance.
If a party does not pay their share
If a party refuses or fails to pay the amount determined, then we must continue to provide a grant of legal assistance for the ICL.
However, we will do so only on condition that:
- the ICL seeks an order for costs against that party at an appropriate time in the court proceedings
- it is appropriate to seek an order for costs under section 117 of the Family Law Act 1975 .
If at least one of the parties to the court proceedings is not receiving a grant of legal assistance
If we make a grant of legal assistance for the separate representation of a child by an ICL in court proceedings and at least one of the parties to the proceedings has not been provided with a grant of legal assistance, then, usually, we must:
- tell each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance that each may have to pay an equal portion of the total costs and disbursements of the ICL
- take into account the capacity to pay of each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance, and determine whether to waive or to reduce the amount that each party must pay
- tell each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance of the amount which we require them to pay
- require each party not receiving a grant of legal assistance to pay the necessary amount in the way we have determined.
Notes on this guideline
For commentary and examples on the eligibility criteria, grants assessment process, documentary requirements and fees and billing relevant to this guideline, see the Notes on guideline 3.3.
Reviewed 20 February 2022