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Legal aid fixed fee payment system changes welcomed

Legal aid fixed fee payment system changes welcomed

Justice Minister Judith Collins has welcomed the decision by the Legal Services Commissioner concerning legal aid payments for criminal defence lawyers.

The Commissioner has made interim changes to clarify when and for what reasons legal aid payments to criminal defence lawyers can be amended. The Commissioner may decide to vary the amount where cases involve significant additional work.

These changes respond to a Court of Appeal judgment last month about the implementation of the Criminal Fixed Fees policy.

“I’m pleased the Commissioner has found a solution that responds to the Court of Appeal decision,” Ms Collins says

“The Crown will now withdraw its application to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the decision.

“I’m sure the legal profession understands the fiscal constraints in the legal aid system and I hope legal aid lawyers respond positively to the Commissioner’s changes.”

Last week the Government introduced a Supplementary Order Paper to the Legal Assistance Amendment Bill, which clarifies that, if necessary, the Governor-General may make regulations to prescribe fees, including by methods that include hourly rates or fixed fees.

ENDS



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