About the Legal Services Agency

How the Legal Services Agency oversees it's business and the role of the Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland Board.

How we oversee our business

The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI)  was created on 1 April 2015 as an executive agency within the Department of Justice (DoJ), upon the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission (NILSC).

The Agency is made up of two main directorates; Corporate Services and Operations.

As an Agency of the Department, the Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI) operates under a Framework Document. The Framework Document sets out the arrangements for the effective governance, financing and operation of LSANI.


The LSANI Board (the Board) oversees the work of LSANI. Its role is to lead the Department’s strategic planning and assist the Chief Executive, who is also the Accounting Officer, in meeting corporate governance responsibilities for the Agency. The Board follows Corporate Governance best practice.

The Board operates as a collegiate forum, under the leadership of the Chief Executive to manage the running of the Agency. Legal Aid policy is determined by the Minister.  However, the Board may discuss policy in the context of analysing options for operational management and delivery. In the policy area, the Board operates in an advisory and consultative capacity, offering guidance when required.

Board members

The Board consists of:

  • Chief Executive, Paul Andrews (who chairs the Board)
  • Director, Corporate Services, Kerry McGill
  • Director, Operations, Judith Clarke
  • two independent members Daphne Johnston and Paul Mageean.

In addition, a representative of the Department attends Board meetings.

Board member roles

The Chief Executive of the LSANI is responsible for the day-to day operation of the Agency and the leadership and management of its staff. The Chief Executive is also currently the holder of the statutory office of Director of Legal Aid Casework (Director). The Director operates under Ministerial guidance and directions when determining whether applications for civil legal services should be funded. The Director is independent from any Ministerial or Departmental interference in relation to individual applications for civil legal services. The Director specifically comments on the conduct of this independent decision making function in the Annual Report.

The role of Independent Board Members includes:

  • providing strategic advice to the Board, contributing to decision-making and supporting the good corporate governance of the LSANI
  • using their experience to challenge and support the Board, acting corporately
  • ensuring that the Board obtains and considers all appropriate information
  • notifying the Board of any matters that threaten the regularity, propriety or value-for-money with which the LSANI carries out its business.

All Board members are required to adhere to the Seven Principles of Public Life.

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