Legal representation

 

Criminal Division

In practice, all young people appearing in the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court are legally represented. If a young person is not represented, the case may be adjourned to enable them to obtain representation. Alternatively, they may be referred to the duty lawyer at the court.

Family Division (child protection cases)

In the Family Division of the Children’s Court, children aged 10 and above must be given the opportunity to be legally represented. The lawyer must act on the instructions given or wishes expressed by the child (the “instructions” model). However, the court may decide that a child is not mature enough to give instructions. In such cases, the child’s lawyer must act in accordance with what they consider to be in the child’s best interests and communicate any wishes expressed by the child (the “best interests” model).

Children under the age of 10 are not legally represented unless the court finds that there are “exceptional circumstances” in relation to the child. In exceptional circumstances, the court may adjourn the case so that legal representation for the child can be obtained. In such cases, the child’s lawyer must act in accordance with what they consider to be in the child’s best interests and communicate any wishes expressed by the child (the “best interests” model).