This page answers questions often asked about the work of the Office of the General Counsel. If you have a question that is not answered here or on the other pages of our website,
please contact us.
Yes. However, this free service is only provided to people in their dealings with particular investigative bodies, such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission and Royal and Special Commissions of Inquiry.
In other matters, the Legal Aid Commission provides free legal advice to the general public regarding most areas of law, such as family law, criminal law and discrimination issues. See the
Legal Aid Commission website for further information.
LawAccess NSW can provide assistance over the phone in relation to legal matters. Ph: 1300 888 529 or see the
LawAccess website for further information.
The Office of the General Counsel provides free independent legal services to people in their dealings with the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
Free assistance is usually available to any person who is approached or summonsed by the LECC or the ICAC and who is potentially a witness.
We can provide legal services if you have been requested by LECC or ICAC officers to participate in an interview or if you have been served with a Notice to Provide a Statement of Information, Notice to Produce Documents, or a Summons to Appear to Give Evidence.
If you seek free legal assistance through the Office of the General Counsel, representation will usually be provided by a legal practitioner from, or appointed by, this Office.
It is important to make contact immediately after you are contacted by the LECC or the ICAC. The best method is by telephone on (02) 8346 1488 during business hours.
Please note that legal costs that you have incurred in dealings with the ICAC prior to the date you apply for assistance from the Office of the General Counsel will not be paid by the Office. The OGC does not approve legal representation before the ICAC retrospectively.
It may be a condition of the grant of assistance that if you are convicted of an indictable offence (other than an offence that was tried summarily) as a result of the investigation or inquiry, you are required to immediately repay to the Attorney General, in full, the total amount paid to you or on your behalf for your legal representation.
If you are approached by investigators for a chat or an interview it is wise to seek legal advice before agreeing to participate. Information given in an informal manner (which may be recorded) will not be protected by the 'use immunity' provisions of the ICAC Act or LECC Act. Legal advice would usually suggest that it is preferable to provide information in a more formal manner, under the protection of the relevant Act.
If the request is accompanied by a Notice to Produce or a Search Warrant, you must comply. Read the document carefully to ensure if the hand-over must be performed immediately. If so, an objection should be stated at this time. If not, seek legal advice before parting with any items. If the request is informal, and you comply, once again you will not receive the protection of the 'use immunity' provisions of the ICAC Act or LECC Act.
If you receive a Notice issued under the ICAC Act or LECC Act, seek legal advice. Protection of your answers is available, but the answers must be endorsed with an objection at the time they are given.
There are two types of hearings. The first is called a 'Compulsory Examination' or 'Private Examination' and the other is a public hearing. The former is conducted in private, and the latter in public.
If the summons has a warning that you must not disclose that you have received it, pay close attention to this requirement. It can be an offence to disobey this directive. Surveillance can be performed at this time by investigators.
Immediately seek legal advice. As a witness you have a raft of rights and obligations. A legal practitioner will advise you comprehensively about them, and answer any questions you may have.
The ICAC Act and LECC Act allow witnesses to object to answering questions or producing material. If the objection is taken, the answer or material must still be given, but cannot be used in Court proceedings against that witness. There are some exceptions to this general provision which will be explained by your lawyer.
You may use your own solicitor or barrister to represent you at the LECC or ICAC hearing. The OGC does not fund these private arrangements. You will have to pay any fees incurred.