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Public legal aid scheme not the way to go

Public legal aid scheme not the way to go

The Government's public legal aid pilot announced today won't provide the quality of legal service or the best use of court time our judicial system needs, says National's Justice spokesman, Richard Worth.

"The plan to have public lawyers delivering legal aid services alongside private lawyers who contract to the Legal Services Agency is the wrong way to go.

"It will do nothing to address the spiralling costs of legal aid which the Government clearly has to address.

"What Phil Goff should instead be looking at is an alternative such as the Legal Services Agency calling for tenders from barristers and law firms, either singly or in groups, to tender for legal work on a bulk basis.

"The Agency could then satisfy itself as to the quality of service and the competence of the legal counsel engaged. The tendering could be carried out on, say, a three-year contract basis.

"This would provide a much better level of representation for defendants, and make much more efficient use of court time. It would also give junior lawyers a chance to learn from their senior counterparts," says Mr Worth.

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