For detailed information and procedures related to the Northern Bail Pilot Project, see CRIM 14 Practice Direction. Counsel appearing on bail matters in Region 5 should be familiar with the new procedures.
LABC has made significant changes to duty counsel in-custody services in Region 5 to better align with the procedures. The changes do not affect out-of-custody duty counsel services or in-custody duty counsel assignments in other regions.
To help with court organization and duty counsel schedules, northern courts have been divided into four catchment areas. Each day, LABC assigns in-custody duty counsel responsible for one of the four catchment areas. A dedicated Crown counsel is also assigned to each virtual court.
Changing to a more regional approach ensures duty counsel's daily workloads are balanced, align with Crown assignments, and help them retain local connections.
LABC has hosted training and is offering resources to support duty counsel in Region 5. Significant changes include the introduction of catchments that align with the virtual courts, timelines that add structure to the day, and increased reliance on MS Teams for communications and access to resources. We’ve posted support materials, including this training webinar and questions-and-answers section, in the Lawyer Portal under the Resources tab on the Resources for Lawyers page.
We’ll be monitoring the pilot project over the coming weeks and months. It is anticipated that what we learn in Region 5 will guide similar changes in other regions in the future.