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Criminal legal aid clarity first step towards resolution

21 June 2013

Criminal legal aid clarity first step towards resolution

The New Zealand Law Society says there is now some clarity in how the Ministry of Justice is managing criminal legal aid fixed fees.

The convenor of the Law Society’s Legal Services Committee, Liz Bulger, says the Legal Services Commissioner is replacing the Criminal Fixed Fees and Complex Cases Policy and Procedures with Guidelines on Criminal Fixed Fees and Complex Cases.

“These guidelines are only an interim solution and provide much-awaited clarification on how the ministry proposes to pay criminal defence lawyers following the Court of Appeal decision in Criminal Bar Association Inc v Attorney-General,” she says.

“We see this as just the first step towards resolving the issues around the Fixed Fees Policy. All criminal legal aid lawyers have been in limbo since the court decision. While these interim guidelines will at least provide some clarity on when and how legal aid payments to criminal defence lawyers can be amended, the onus is still on the ministry to provide a permanent and acceptable go-forward solution.

“We look forward to seeing the final report from the substantive review of Criminal Fixed Fees. We understand this will be later in the year.”

ENDS

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