Legal Services Expenditure Report for 2009/2010 Shows Spending Down
Canberra, Australia (News4us.com) December 24, 2010
Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, today released the Legal Services Expenditure Report 2009-2010, which shows a significant slowing in the amount spent by the Commonwealth on legal services over the past year.
The report details legal services expenditure across all Commonwealth departments and agencies.
The total legal services expenditure of $571.9 million by agencies regulated by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 represented an increase of 2.9% from 2008-2009, down on the 8.3% increase in the previous financial year.
The report noted that:
- Agencies are taking initiatives to reduce legal services expenditure through a significant shift in the number of direct briefs to counsel, which has increased almost fivefold from 2008-09;
- Equal opportunity briefing practices have helped ensure that 26.1% of all Commonwealth briefs went to female counsel, a greater proportion than women’s 19% representation at the Bar;
- The reforms introduced by the Government in 2008 to encourage pro bono activities amongst Commonwealth legal services providers are having a positive impact, with a number of providers increasing their pro bono work.
This is the second financial year all Commonwealth departments and agencies have been required to report against standardised criteria.
“This report shows a significant drop in the increase we saw in legal services expenditure in 2008-09,” Mr McClelland said.
“As a result of reforms introduced by the Government, the Attorney-General’s Department is now able to access more transparent and consistent information on expenditure on legal services across each and every Government department and agency.”
“This was not possible under previous arrangements, where there was no collective or consistent approach to legal services expenditure.”
“In February, I will host a roundtable with key government departments and agencies to discuss further improving legal services procurement.”
“This standardising level of reporting is one of a number of reforms introduced by the Government aimed at controlling legal services expenditure.”
Other key reforms introduced by the Government include new common tender arrangements, increasing competition by enabling a broader range of firms to work on behalf of the Commonwealth and amendments to the Legal Services Directions 2005 to encourage the use of cheaper dispute resolution in place of the courts.
The Legal Services Expenditure Report 2009-2010 is publicly available on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website, www.ag.gov.au.
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