The Commission considers this Review provides a vital opportunity to reaffirm the importance of legal aid as a facilitator of access to justice and to conduct an informed debate on what legal aid should fund and how much legal aid should cost.
Ronnie Spence the Chair of the Commission welcomed the publication of the Access to Justice Review “Agenda” document. He said:
“The Commission has long argued that it is inappropriate to seek to manage a demand led service like legal aid within a budget which falls short of the amount required resulting in pressures which have to be managed in-year. The current arrangements are no longer sustainable and we need a new approach.
The Agenda Paper which has been published today makes this point in a compelling manner. The Commission welcomes the approach set out in the Agenda Paper which seeks to develop a rationale for defining what legal aid should fund and how much this should cost.
While the Agenda Paper poses difficult questions and seeks views on priorities the Commission is convinced that a sustainable legal aid scheme can only be developed and delivered through such an approach.
The Commission will fully engage in this debate and would encourage all interested parties to do likewise.”
Notes to editors:
- About the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission:
- The Commission assumed responsibility on 1 November 2003 for the provision of publicly funded services in Northern Ireland.
- The Commission is a Non-Departmental Public Body of the Department of Justice (DoJ) established under the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.
- The powers of the Commission are set out in Article 7 of the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.
- The Commission operates within:
- the Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003
- regulations, directions and guidance by the Department of Justice
- the resources provided by the NI Assembly through the Department of Justice
- Our aim is to provide quality legal services that demonstrate value for money and promote social inclusion by targeting those in greatest need.
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