Legal Representation, Including Legal Aid

Legal Representation, Including Legal Aid

Legal representation is also important in a criminal case because the rules of evidence and procedure can be difficult for a non-lawyer to deal with. A defence lawyer presents the evidence favourable and tries to discredit the evidence of the prosecution by cross-examination.

Solicitor = minor cases

Barrister = more serious cases

The right to legal representation

– No right

– McInnes v R (1979) was decided fair trial even though he defended himself on a rape charge

– Dietrich v The Queen (1992) limited right to legal representation established

Legal Aid

– Provision of free/cheap legal services to people on limited incomes

– Aim: help reduce inequalities of access by providing legal assistance

– Primary source: Legal Aid Commission of NSW

– Provides legal practitioner who prepares case and/or represents the client in court

– Serious matters, public defendant may be appointed

To receive legal aid, a person must pass:

– Means Test: show that their disposable income is less than a specified amount

– Merit Test: must have good chance of winning, generally only applied in criminal appeals and supreme court bail applications

– Jurisdiction Test: only granted for types of legal matters


Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.