Law to ease pressure on crime victims enacted
A law designed to ease financial pressure on victims of crime who receive legal aid to attend coronial inquests and parole hearings comes into force today.Justice Minister Simon Power said the amendment to the Legal Services Act 2000 allowed the Legal Ser
A law designed to ease financial pressure on victims of crime who receive legal aid to attend coronial inquests and parole hearings comes into force today.
Justice Minister Simon Power said the amendment to the Legal Services Act 2000 allowed the Legal Services Agency (LSA) to decide at any time during proceedings not to recover legal aid debt.
"We have moved to ensure victims don't find themselves in situations like that in which Karl Kuchenbecker's partner found herself when she received a letter from the Legal Services Agency advising she might have to repay the costs of legal aid for his inquest," Mr Power said.
"It's unacceptable that victims of crime, in the rare cases where they need legal representation at coronial inquests and parole hearings, should have to deal with the stress of the possibility of repayments being required."
Mr Kuchenbecker, a father of two, was shot dead by Graeme Burton in January 2007 while Burton was on the run from police after breaching his parole conditions.
Mr Power said the circumstances of the inquest highlighted the inflexibility of the previous legislation, and although the LSA later urged Mr Kuchenbecker's partner to apply for a write-off of any repayment requirement once final costs were known, there was still uncertainty.
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