Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) has adopted the following principles for the payment of preparation fees to solicitors in criminal trials. ‘Preparation’ includes:

  • inspecting exhibits
  • listening to tape recordings
  • reading
  • consultations.

Additional preparation fees available for solicitor where necessary

When the number of pages of material to peruse exceeds 20 hours, solicitors are entitled to seek additional preparation.

Additional fees for preparation for committals, committal/inquests, coronial inquests, trials and appeals will only be allowed where the preparation is necessary and exceeds 20 hours. A preparation fees worksheet must be completed for each request.

VLA will not approve additional preparation for solicitors for scanning documents.

VLA may approve a maximum of 15 hours additional preparation for solicitors.

Rates of additional preparation for solicitors

The rate of additional preparation will be calculated as follows:

[total pages to be perused / 90] less 20 hours
rounded to nearest whole number
appropriate hourly rate

Calculation of additional preparation

A preparation fee will be calculated on the basis of hours spent on preparation, up to the maximum fee approved. The fee paid will not exceed the amount calculated using the applicable formula. A solicitor claiming additional preparation must keep a record of time spent on preparation and submit it when a fee is claimed.

Further preparation not normally paid after an adjournment

Where a trial is adjourned or where a retrial occurs, further additional preparation fees for solicitors will not be approved.

Additional fees uplift

Where additional preparation fees have been approved for counsel at the Magistrates’ Court stage and the matter proceeds to the County Court or Supreme Court the difference between the hourly rate of preparation paid in the Magistrates’ Court and the higher court will be allowed. See Table ZZ for the applicable hourly rates.

Reviewed 24 January 2022