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Private firms and practitioners

Public authorities must seek the advice of the Crown Solicitor before engaging private legal practitioners.

Engaging private lawyers

Treasurer's Instruction 10 (Engagement of Legal Practitioners) allows the Crown Solicitor to grant approval to engage private lawyers in appropriate circumstances. 

This is usually where CSO does not have capacity to do the work or lacks expertise in a specialist area. Approval will only be given for interstate lawyers if the required expertise is not available in South Australia. 

A private firm cannot be engaged without approval from the Crown Solicitor. 

Pre-qualification register

In some cases, the CSO outsources work to private legal firms or practitioners listed on a pre-qualification register. 

Legal Bulletin 1 (PDF 72KB) explains how this process works in conjunction with Treasurer's Instruction 10. 

Nominating for the register

Private legal firms and practitioners can nominate to be included on the pre-qualification register to receive work from the CSO. 

Firms and practitioners will need to nominate their areas of expertise. 

Terms of engagement (effective 1 February 2021)

Inclusion on the register does not guarantee work from the CSO. 

Rates and fees

Private solicitors and counsel are generally only allowed to charge public authorities according to a fee structure. 

  2020-21 rate Indexation rate 2021-22 rate
Solicitor rates
Law clerks
$181 2.5% $186
Litigation <$1M $358 2.5% $367
Litigation >$1M $398 2.5% $408
Commercial <$200K $358 2.5% $367
Commercial >$200K $398 2.5% $408
Employment (inc W/C) $358 2.5% $367
Counsel rates
Senior counsel (per day)
$3711 2.5% $3804
Senior counsel (per hour) $466 2.5% $478
Junior counsel (per day) $2591 2.5% $2656
Junior counsel (per hour) $324 2.5% $332

Reimbursing private solicitor fees 

Public officials can be reimbursed for the reasonable costs related to private lawyers. 

This would only be where they need to obtain a lawyer for legal proceedings, or investigations by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC), in connection to their official duties. 

For example, where a public servant is required as a significant witness in a coronial inquest or where a senior public official is required to respond to an ICAC investigation.

It is often not appropriate for the CSO to provide legal representation in these circumstances. 

Reimbursement falls under Treasurer's Instruction 14 (Ex-Gratia Payments). It must be approved by the Attorney-General, following advice from the Crown Solicitor. 

Legal Bulletin 5 (PDF 168KB) sets out the criteria for reimbursement. It also provides guidance on what the Crown Solicitor considers when advising the Attorney-General. 

Due to recent legislative changes, Legal Bulletin 5 is currently under review. Contact the CSO for further advice. 

Applying for reimbursement
Legal Bulletin 5 includes further information on the process for applying for reimbursement. 

Prior to engaging a private lawyer, a public official must first seek advice from the CSO to the effect that legal representation is reasonably required in the circumstances, and that the Crown Solicitor will not represent them in the relevant proceedings or investigation. 

A public official can seek this advice by emailing CSO-BusinessServices [at] sa.gov.au (subject: Legal%20Bulletin%205)

Referring to Legal Bulletin 5 in the subject of the email will ensure it is directed to the right person within the CSO to maintain confidentiality.

Claims will in general be determined only once the legal proceedings or investigation have concluded and no adverse findings have been made against the public official. 

Claimants should submit their claim for the Crown Solicitor's consideration to: CSO-BusinessServices [at] sa.gov.au (subject: Legal%20Bulletin%205)

Contact the Crown Solicitor's Office

Phone: 8207 1720

Email: CSO-BusinessServices [at] sa.gov.au

GPO Box 464, Adelaide SA 5001

Level 15, 10 Franklin Street

Adelaide SA 5000