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Legal aid revamp to cut costs


The government will today unveil a plan to crack down on the legal aid system and slash its rising costs.

NBR staff and NZPA
Wed, 13 Apr 2011

The government will today unveil a plan to crack down on the legal aid system and slash its rising costs.

The legal aid bill has grown massively, increasing by 61% over the past three years from $111 million to $172 million, according to Justice Simon Power.

He will today announce major changes aimed at bringing down costs, including taking control of 50% of criminal cases where legal aid was used, One News reported last night.

Those cases would be handled by state-owned Public Defence Service, which is already being trialled in Wellington and Auckland.

Another planned change would restrict access to legal aid for less serious criminal cases by setting limits based on income. Only single people on less than $22,000 a year and people with children on less than $50,000 a year would be able to get legal aid.

At a forum in February, Mr Power said changes were needed to meet an expected $402 million funding gap over the next five years.

He has been driving legal aid reforms following Dame Margaret Bazley's report on the legal aid system, which identified system-wide failings and called for urgent action to rebuild trust and confidence in it.

Last week, Parliament passed the Legal Services Bill, which will fundamentally reform the system.

NBR staff and NZPA
Wed, 13 Apr 2011
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Legal aid revamp to cut costs
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