21 – Finalising grants of legal assistance

This section explains what the assigned lawyer must do when a legally assisted matter, or a stage of a legally assisted matter, finishes.

When a legally assisted matter or a stage of a legally assisted matter ends, the assigned lawyer must give VLA a final report on the outcome within a reasonable time.

VLA has different reporting requirements, depending on which grants assessment process the application for assistance was processed under.

See also:

Applications processed through the simplified grants assessment process

If the legal matter is one for which VLA processed the application through the simplified grants assessment process, then the assigned lawyer must submit their final report and their final accounts (in-house billing or invoices) to VLA within 30 days after the assisted matter finishes.

VLA has pro forma final report forms which may be used for the following matters:

  • family violence and stalking intervention order matters
  • summary criminal prosecutions
  • indictable criminal prosecutions.

In family law matters, a lawyer must send a copy of the orders.

Applications processed through the standard grants assessment process

In all other assisted matters, the assigned lawyers must report to VLA by writing a letter and including in it:

  • the VLA file number
  • the assisted person’s full name
  • the result of the matter (including all details of any penalties, settlements and costs)
  • a claim for lump sum fee invoice or in-house billing sheet, using the appropriate scale of costs or VLA’s fee schedules and, if VLA requests, a bill of costs in taxable form for fees and itemised disbursements
  • an account for all money the lawyer has received and paid on behalf of the assisted person during the assignment
  • any intention of the assisted person to take any further legal action (for example, to proceed to the next stage or to appeal).

See Payments to lawyers and service providers

Small settlements

In some legally assisted matters in which VLA pays interim costs and disbursements, the eventual settlement offer or judgment may be significantly lower than the amount anticipated when VLA originally made the grant of legal assistance. In these cases, VLA may agree that the lawyer need only refund to VLA the amount paid by VLA.

If a case has finished, and the assigned lawyer has given the assisted person an account for costs over and above the amount VLA paid or will pay, then VLA may consider:

  • removing the lawyer from either the Section 29A Practitioner Panel or the Section 30 Referral Panel (whichever may be relevant)
  • prosecuting the lawyer under section 32(1) of the Legal Aid Act 1978
  • requiring the lawyer to repay to the assisted person any payments the assisted person has made.

If VLA prosecutes the lawyer under the Legal Aid Act, then the lawyer may be either:

See also: Referral and practitioner panels