Court/Tribunal Representation Service

2 August 2019

Definition

A Court/Tribunal Representation Service is where a Centre provides ongoing representation for a matter that has commenced in a court, tribunal or inquiry, where the Centre provides legal representation to the Service user and takes carriage of the matter in an ongoing, representative capacity.

“Commenced” in this context means the matter has been filed in court, lodged in a Tribunal, or accepted for inquiry by a forum such as a Royal Commission.

A Court/Tribunal Representation Service can be opened prior to a matter being filed in court, lodged in a Tribunal, or accepted for inquiry, where this is imminent - for example, where the Centre is taking on the case precisely in order to commence proceedings.

Court/Tribunal Representation Service v Duty Lawyer Service

A Court/Tribunal Representation Service does not include services provided by a duty lawyer or advocate at a court or tribunal ­- these are Duty Lawyer Services.

Court/Tribunal Representation Service v Dispute Resolution Service

Once a matter has commenced in a court, tribunal or inquiry, any alternative dispute resolution processes (such as a court-ordered mediation or a Tribunal-ordered conciliation) are part of the existing Court/Tribunal Representation Service. They do not fit within the definition of a Dispute Resolution Representative Service, which is limited to legal matters taking place outside of formal litigation processes.

In CLASS, work done in relation to these court or tribunal ordered dispute resolution processes can be recorded as Actions within the Court/Tribunal Representation Service.

Court/Tribunal Representation Service v Other Representation Service

If a Centre agrees to act for a Service User in a legal dispute in which court or tribunal proceedings have not yet been commenced, and which do not appear likely to commence in the immediate future, then the service should be opened as an Other Representation Service.  

Many legal problems can be (and are) resolved without any recourse to courts or tribunals. These disputes might go on for weeks, months, even years without ever moving to litigation. Common examples are tenant / landlord disputes relating to non-urgent repairs, or ex-partners disputing child support.

If litigation commences, the Other Representation Service should be closed and a new Court/Tribunal Representation Service should be opened.

The rationale for this rule is that, at the point of litigation commencing:

  • Usually the Centre has to review their commitment to the Service User and make a decision about whether to continue acting, particularly where the Centre had only agreed to act for the Service User in resolving the dispute without litigation
  • with paper files, you would usually open a fresh new hard copy folder to contain the court documents so you can keep all the litigation paperwork separate and in one place.

Assistance provided to self-­represented parties involved in a Court/Tribunal Representation Service

Assistance provided by a Centre to a person who is self­-representing in a Court or Tribunal proceeding are to be recorded as Legal Advice, Legal Task or Ongoing Legal Support Service, as relevant.

Characteristics to be recorded against the Service

The particular Court or Tribunal should be recorded against the Service. For information about how to record court attendance Actions in CLASS, see CLASS Documentation.

How many Services?

All services provided to progress the determination of the Service User’s legal proceedings are counted together as one Court/Tribunal Service. For example, information, legal advice, referrals, and legal tasks are considered to be part of, and subsumed, by the Court/Tribunal Service and are not recorded separately.

Note that CLASS does allow referrals to be recorded as part of all Ongoing Services and these are currently included in the count for Referrals in NPA reporting.

If a Service User is represented by a Centre in a second piece of litigation, an additional Court/Tribunal Representation Service is opened where the second legal proceedings involved:

  • Different events / set of facts
  • Different Other Parties
  • Same set of facts, same Other Parties, but different forum (eg first litigation is in Local Court, second litigation is in Tribunal)
  • Same set of facts, same Other Parties, same forum, but the two matters cannot be finalised in same court proceedings
  • Same set of facts, same Other Parties, same forum, but matter has proceeded on appeal to next stage.

Examples where two Court/Tribunal Representation Services involving the same Service User should be opened are:

  • Service User is assaulted by ex-husband, and Centre acts for Service User in relation to Domestic Violence Orders in Local Court and then in relation to Victims Compensation proceedings (same event/set of facts, same Other Parties, different forum)
  • Service User assaults a number of people in a brawl, faces summary criminal charges in Local Court and indictable criminal charges in District Court (same facts but different legal forum / cannot be finalised in same court proceedings)
  • Centrelink matter is first finalised by one member of the AAT but then appealed to full bench of AAT (Same set of facts, same Other Parties, matter has proceeded on appeal to next stage / forum).  

Case studies and examples

Case Study - Maha’s Centrelink Dispute

Case Study - Maia's tenancy dispute

Ready Reckoner - When you do more than Advice

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Page version history:

2 August 2019: Whole Page substantially rewritten
March 2019: Draft text provided with questions for feedback.