His Honour Tom Burgess CBE has been appointed as an independent advisor to lead the review. Judge Burgess will report by the end of June 2024.
All recommendations arising from the review will be subject to the consideration of the Department/Justice Minister and implementation will be subject to the budgetary position and necessary financial approvals.
Judge Burgess background
Judge Burgess has extensive experience in both criminal and civil justice systems in Northern Ireland. A former senior partner of a leading Belfast solicitors’ firm and former President of the Law Society for Northern Ireland, Judge Burgess served as a County Court and Crown Court Judge from 1992 until 2013. He was appointed Recorder of Londonderry from 1994 to 2001, Recorder of Belfast from 2003 until 2013 and Deputy High Court Judge from 2013 until 2018. In addition, Judge Burgess was also appointed to the role of Parole Commissioner. In recent years, Judge Burgess was non-Executive Director of Forensic Science Northern Ireland and a non-Executive member of the Legal Services Agency Board. The breadth of experience across all areas that are within scope of the proposed review make him ideally placed to undertake the review.
Scope of review
The scope will include:-
- The Legal Aid for Crown Court Proceedings (Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2005 (and any subsequent amendments);
- The Magistrates’ Courts and County Court Appeals (Criminal Legal Aid)(Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2009 (and any subsequent amendments);
- Part 3 of Schedule 2 and Table 1 of Part 3 of Schedule 4 to the Civil Legal Services (Remuneration) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 relating to advice and assistance provided to citizens by legal representatives attending police stations for PACE; and
- Tables 3-7 of Part 3 of Schedule 4 to the Civil Legal Services (Remuneration) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 relating to providing legal representation in connection with parole proceedings.
- To review the current legal aid framework within scope of this review in line with the criteria outlined in Article 37 of the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 and Article 47 of the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, as relevant;
- Where relevant, to make recommendations on a proposed legal aid framework that:
- is sustainable, resilient and consistent with enabling wider criminal justice reforms (for example, Speeding Up Justice Programme, Modernisation Programme) as appropriate;
- supports and enables efficient and effective case progression;
- reflects appropriate levels of legal representation; and
- enables the efficient and effective administrative operation of the framework for Legal Services Agency and practitioners.
- Where relevant, to make recommendations on the appropriate remuneration levels taking account of the statutory criteria outlined in Article 37 of the 1981 Order and Article 47 of the 2003 Order;
- To consider and make recommendations regarding the applicability of the statutory criteria outlined in Article 37 of the 1981 Order and any need for change;
- To consider and make recommendations for an achievable and proportionate mechanism for reviewing remuneration levels in the 2005 Rules and 2009 Rules in future to ensure the framework remains fit for purpose. This will include making recommendations on frequency of applying any proposed mechanism.