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Duty Lawyer Scheme > Merits Test

Defendants charged with Standard List offences will be offered the Duty Lawyer representation subject to the passing of means test and payment of handling charge of $620.

The merits test adopted by the Duty Lawyer Scheme is based upon the criteria set out by the Widgery Committee in 1966.

The Criteria (apart from means) for deciding whether a grant of legal representation for summary trials are "in the interests of justice" which were stated by the Widgery Committee as follows:
" (a) that the charge is a grave one in the sense that the accused is in real jeopardy of losing his liberty or suffering serious damage to his reputation;
(b) that the case raises a substantial question of law;
(c) that the accused is unable to follow the proceedings and state his own case because of language barrier, mental illness or other physical disability;
(d) that the nature of defence involves the tracing and interviewing of witnesses, or expert cross-examination of witnesses for the prosecution;
(e) that legal representation is desirable in the interest of someone other than the accused as, for example, in the case of sexual offences against young children where it is undesirable that the accused should cross-examine the witness in person."

The application can be made at the Court Liaison Office.


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