The Department of Justice has put in place a procedure for criminal cases involving a significant volume of disclosure.
Disclosure beyond normal expectations
In recent years, there has been a very significant increase in review of disclosure in criminal trials owing to the proliferation of smart phones, big data, and the internet.
The Department of Justice acknowledges this and has now put in place a new procedure for those cases where the disclosure is significant and goes way beyond what would ordinarily be expected in the normal preparation of a case.
Review of disclosure that is not deemed significant is not covered by this procedure, and any review carried out in this instance is considered to be covered by the Brief Fee.
Consultations were held with both the Law Society and the Bar Council to find a workable procedure that reflects the reality on the ground, while simultaneously managing the tight budget for Criminal Legal Aid.
The procedure sets out the conditions for application for prior sanction and the requirements around claiming for payment for the disclosure that has been sanctioned.
The procedure and claim forms should be available on the Department’s website from 27 September 2021 but can also be requested from the Criminal Legal Aid Unit of the Department in advance of their publication on the website.
The procedure comes into immediate effect, and will apply to all new and existing cases.
Prior-sanction applications require an estimate of how much disclosure will be involved, the nature of it, the likely costs and who will be doing what.
Payment will only be made for review of disclosure that has received prior sanction.
The instructing solicitor on the case is responsible for the application for prior sanction – and the collation and submission of the pay claim on behalf of all parties.
The department may consult with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in respect of the level of significance of the disclosure.
Claims for sanction and/or payment must be accompanied by the appropriate form, and sent to the Criminal Legal Aid Unit in St Stephen’s Green.