Notes on Guideline 7.1 – litigation for adults for special medical procedures involving a child

Note: The lawyer is not required to assess eligibility under this guideline. Applications are submitted to ATLAS for assessment by VLA.

The following information provides guidance on how to interpret and apply guideline 7.1 and should be read in conjunction with that guideline in the Handbook. Where there is any inconsistency between the following information and the guidelines, the guidelines will prevail.

See also notes relating to grants for interim contested hearings.

(a) Eligibility criteria

Assistance may be available under this guideline where criterion A is met.

Criterion A

Refer to the notes linked to the following threshold tests:

In addition to the parents of a child, assistance may be available under this guideline for a person with parental responsibility, including a person with a permanent care order, to initiate or respond to proceedings relating to special medical procedures for a child. This may be necessary where the parents are absent, or will not consent to the medical procedure.

Matters that may be funded under this guideline include treatment of a child for the following:

  • gender identity disorder
  • surgery
  • sterilisation
  • blood transfusion

and includes ceasing medical treatment.

(b) Grants assessment process

An application for a grant of assistance under this guideline must be lodged via ATLAS using the ‘VLA Assessed – FDRS & stage 2’ template, making the following selections:

  • under ‘court hearings’, select yes’ and advise of the appropriate court
  • in the professional costs screen, select the required funding under the appropriate court.

The broadband stage 2E grant consists mainly of the initial preparation and appearance lump sum and one subsequent hearing, one compliance and readiness hearing and one trial management hearing. Where funding is required for a further subsequent hearing, an extension request needs to be submitted requesting a stage 2F, outlining why further funding is required.

VLA Assessed templates require the lawyer to detail how the matter meets the appropriate guideline and the Commonwealth merits test. If the lawyer needs to provide additional information, this should be done using the ‘submit correspondence’ function.

(c) Documentary requirements

To enable VLA to assess the application, the lawyer should provide:

  • a letter with the application outlining the circumstances of the matter and the orders sought, and
  • proof of the client’s means.

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a family law worksheet.

(d) Fees and billing

Stage 2 of fee table 4.1, sets out the fees available and the conditions attaching to grants under this guideline. The following provides additional information.

Stage 2E – Initiating litigation, Federal Circuit and Family Court (FCFCOA)

If a barrister is briefed to appear at a hearing, they must be paid directly. For more information, see the Step by step ATLAS guides.

The broadband grant allows for three subsequent hearings payable where the matter is listed in the duty list or as a mention or directions hearing at the interim stage.

The grant allows for service fees, conduct money and filing fees up to a set amount. If further funding is required, a special disbursement extension must be submitted. Filing fees cannot be claimed where the client is entitled to an exemption of those fees. The grant allows a set amount for FOI requests, title search fees and title lodgement fees.

No fees are payable for administrative adjournments.

See the Snapshot of fees available when initiating litigation, FCFCOA .

The following documents to support claims made under the grant should be retained on the file:

  • consultations with client (including appointments and telephone attendances)
  • advice provided to client (oral and/or written)
  • negotiations conducted with the other party or their legal lawyer (including telephone attendances and letters)
  • conference notes and details
  • copies of the Section 60I certificate and the chairperson’s report.

Refer to notes linked to Guideline 1.3 – Fees and billing.

Where a defended hearing is required, lawyers should submit an extension request for a Stage 4 defended hearing appearance fee.