The Independent Review Office (IRO) has released a Review of the Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS).
The Review was undertaken by an expert Committee during 2022 and examined how effectively current arrangements, and in particular the ILARS Funding Guidelines and Approved Lawyer Guidelines (collectively, the Guidelines), enabled the effective achievement of ILARS’ statutory purposes. IRO received the Review Committee’s report in December 2022.
The Committee found the Guidelines enabled the effective achievement of ILARS’ statutory purpose and effectively supported the objectives of the workers compensation system by:
- authorising a body of capable legal professionals (Approved Lawyers) to assist injured workers
- setting fees that achieve the balance of being fair to Approved Lawyers and the system
- providing processes and incentives for early resolution of matters.
The Committee reported the overwhelming feedback from users and participants was that the Guidelines support the scheme objectives, enabled the efficient and effective operation of ILARS and are fair to participants. The Committee found that an area where stakeholders have contrasting views is in respect of the amount of fees payable to lawyers for work performed under ILARS.
The Committee made 31 recommendations to improve the operation of ILARS, including:
- to increase the transparency and consistency of ILARS decision-making – by creating a user group and developing Practice Notes
- to improve the public information about and continuing professional development of Approved Lawyers
- to improve the internal administration of ILARS
- to regularly review of the ILARS Funding Guidelines and associated schedule of fees.
IRO reviewed the recommendations closely. IRO proposes to:
- accept 17 recommendations in full – these recommendations primarily relate to improving the consistency of IRO decision-making, the accessibility of information about Approved Lawyers and internal IRO processes
- accept 13 recommendations in principle – these recommendations primarily relate to the ongoing review of the ILARS Funding Guidelines and associated fees, and ongoing requirements of lawyers to retain approval
- one (1) recommendation – concerning reducing the requirements for some lawyers to be approved under ILARS – is under consideration.
IRO has commenced a project to review, consult on and, as appropriate, implement the Review recommendations.
The Review can be found here.
IRO's response to the Review recommendations can be found here.
You can read IRO's announcement of the Review, in January 2022, here.
You can also read an update on the Review's progression here.