The IRO has finalised a new Federal Jurisdiction Funding Policy (the Policy), which commences on 1 July 2022. The Policy applies to Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS) funding for matters affected by federal jurisdiction (where the worker resides outside NSW and the other party is the State of NSW, or a natural person). The Policy is consistent with ILARS’ statutory purpose to:
‘provide funding for legal and associated costs for workers under the Workers Compensation Acts seeking advice regarding decisions of insurers for those Acts and to provide assistance in finding solutions for disputes between workers and insurers’.
The Policy includes a specific Professional Fees and Disbursements Schedule, and several principles for the funding of federal jurisdiction matters, including:
- Reiterating that, consistent with other ILARS- funded matters, legal advice and assistance to the worker should be at no cost to them;
- Costs are payable for matters which are resolved on the basis of payment of statutory benefits only. No costs are payable for matters which resolve claims for damages;
- The IRO may seek a refund of legal costs or any part of the costs paid under the grant where a worker recovers costs in the District Court;
- The IRO retains an overarching discretion as to the professional fees paid and reimbursement of disbursements, including in considering any decision or reasons of the Court in determining the matter.
- The IRO generally does not indemnify a worker where a costs order is made in favour of a Respondent/Defendant by the Court, but will consider meeting some or all of the costs where such an order is made, on a case-by-case basis. Lawyers requesting that IRO meet these costs must provide a written submission with relevant information addressing why IRO should meet the costs order.
- The IRO will pay fees in federal jurisdiction matters at the conclusion of the legal relationship, or when a final outcome is achieved. Payment of interim invoices may be considered where there have been significant delays due to the matter being a federal jurisdiction matter.