Criminal Division of the Children’s Court
In practice, virtually 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 of the Children’s Court (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 child’s instructions and wishes.
Children under the age of 10 (or those who are considered to be insufficiently mature to give instructions for other reasons) 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.