The Andrews Labor Government is supporting the launch of a new online system that will improve access to legal representation for the state’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
The new platform will allow courts to refer self-represented litigants to barristers for pro bono services.
Attorney-General Jill Hennessy formally launched the Victorian Bar’s Pro Bono Platform today, which replaces the outdated Duty Barrister Scheme.
The platform will allow the Supreme Court, County Court and Coroners Court to make targeted pro bono referrals directly to barristers.
It is intended that all 2100 current practising Victorian Bar members will participate in the scheme, doubling the number of barristers who took up the previous scheme.
Pro-bono legal services ensure fair access to legal representation for all individuals regardless of their age, gender, race, disability or socio-economic status.
Court officers will use the new platform to facilitate referrals, and will nominate the relevant practice area, describe the scope of the request and provide the court documents to the barrister.
Requests will be sent through via email alert to all relevant barristers or to a specific barrister.
Barristers will be able to view and accept requests, view documents, upload files and track their pro bono work through the platform, helping to reduce administrative time.
The platform has been funded by the Victorian Bar, a grant from the Legal Services Board and by a sponsorship from web developer Icon Agency.
As noted by Attorney-General Jill Hennessy
“The new platform will allow the courts to more efficiently refer matters to barristers for pro bono services, ensuring we’re continuing to focus efforts on access to justice for those most in need.”
“I am grateful to barristers who are committed to providing pro bono legal services for those in the community who do not have the financial means or specialised knowledge to fight for their rights.”