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Legal Assistance Amendment Bill SOP

Hon Judith Collins

Minister of Justice

11 June 2013   Media Statement       

Legal Assistance Amendment Bill SOP

The Government has introduced a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to the Legal Assistance Amendment Bill during the Committee of the Whole House stage debate on the Bill at Parliament today. 

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Supplementary Order Paper makes minor but necessary changes to clarify procedures around granting legal aid.

“Administrative changes will allow the Legal Services Commissioner to process applications for certain criminal cases electronically.

“Although this change will only affect internal Ministry of Justice processes, it should mean faster decisions for legally aided people and lawyers. It’s important that decisions to grant legal aid are made quickly and this is a positive step towards ensuring that,” Ms Collins says.

The Supplementary Order Paper also clarifies the operation of the regulation making powers in the Legal Services Act 2011.

The Act is amended so that regulations can prescribe fees to be paid for legal aid work, the circumstances in which the fees would apply, and criteria that would be needed to depart from the fees.

Another amendment will allow applicants for legal aid to seek review of the Legal Services Commissioner’s decisions on whether to apply these fees.

“Following the recent Court of Appeal decision on fixed fees for criminal legal aid payments, the Government believes there is merit in clarifying the circumstances in which Parliament intends for such regulations to be made.

“We have also been listening to feedback from the Criminal Bar Association and the wider profession, and this is a reasonable and appropriate step in response to the recent decision,” Ms Collins says.

Further information on the Bill, including Government news releases and Cabinet papers, can be found at http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/justice-system-improvements/legal-aid/legal-aid-funding.

ENDS

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