Boost To Legal Aid Funding Welcomed, More Required
23 May 2008
Boost To Legal Aid Funding Welcomed But More Required
New Zealand First justice spokesperson Dail Jones says that while he is pleased that Budget 2008 contained an additional $11.2 million in operational funding for legal aid remuneration, it has been too long in coming and is not enough to address the many problems facing our legal aid system.
Mr Jones said that legal aid remuneration levels had not been adjusted since 1996, and that the lack of attention to this issue had resulted in greater numbers of lawyers refusing to undertake legal aid cases.
“By choosing to neglect the level of legal aid funding, consecutive governments have created a situation where increasing numbers of lawyers are refusing to take on legal aid work to the detriment of clients,” said Mr Jones.
“The Minister’s office has assured us that this funding will be a 10 per cent increase to be applied uniformly across all proceedings.
“We hope that the increase in legal aid remuneration in Budget 2008 will not be used as an excuse by future governments to ignore further funding increases for another 12 years.
“If that were to happen, we would risk the legal aid system becoming damaged beyond repair,” said Mr Jones.