The Law Society has welcomed the announcement today that new fees for criminal legal aid would be introduced by the Legal Services Commissioner.
New schedules were contained in a report released by the commissioner following a review. New Zealand Law Society Legal Services Committee convenor Liz Bulger said the review has resulted in an increase of $4.92m in the fees for criminal aid.
“The changes have been a long time coming and lawyers providing criminal legal aid have been seriously struggling with the overall economic viability of legal aid work,” Bulger said.
“Criminal legal aid lawyers will be glad that some significant gaps have been addressed. It is good that fees will be introduced or increased where they have not been properly aligned with the new criminal procedure process.”
According to the Law Society, criminal aid applications rose by 4.1 per cent over a 12 month period last year, making up 69 per cent of all legal aid applications.
“Unfortunately the changes will be phased in over three years,” Bulger said.
“We had hoped for an immediate introduction and more substantial across-the-board increases, but the new schedules are a good first step.”
Bulger said the New Zealand Law Society was able to provide input from around 300 lawyers in its submission to the Legal Services Commissioner on the changes.