Legal aid

Biggest legal aid trough top-up in a decade: troughing lawyers want more

Legal aid lawyers do not believe the government’s biggest top-up to the courts in more than a decade will help the people who need it most.

Presumably they are talking about themselves.

They, and community law centres, have been crying out for more funding for years.

Promising a $96 million boost to legal aid over four years as part of last week’s Budget, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges said he had listened.

The funding included $17.2 million to increase eligibility for civil and family legal aid. ? Read more »

REVEALED: The millionaire Legal Aid lawyers?

SIX FIRMS of solicitors were paid more than $1 million each in taxpayer-funded legal aid in a year while 20 others each raked in more than $500,000, startling new figures reveal.

In a graphic illustration of the legal aid gravy train, the Ministry of Justice figures show total payments to legal aid providers in the year to 30 June 2015 were up 4.5 per cent on the previous year to $130.216 million, from $124.58 million paid in the previous year.

Payments made in the latest year were just behind the total payments in the year to 30 June 2013 ($130.259 million) and a long way behind the total payments made in the year to 30 June 2012, when they totalled $148.3 million.

The payments – which are GST exclusive – include the fees of listed providers, including those claimed on behalf of other listed providers, and disbursements for general office costs, travel costs, and special disbursements, which include fees for agents, expert witnesses, forensic tests, interpreters and special reports, such as medical or valuation reports.

During the year to 30 June 2015, payments were made to 1224 listed providers – down slightly from the 1240 in the previous year. This meant the average payment per provider was $106,385.58, compared with $100,467.92 the previous year.

The median payment (received by the middle provider) was $68,147.22. Six providers received payments totaling over $1 million, and 20 received payments totaling between $500,000 and $1 million.

There were 793 providers ? 65 per cent of the total – who received payments of less than $100,000, and 345 of these (28 per cent of all providers who received a payment) received payments of less than $30,000.

The highest payment was to Wellington firm Cooper Legal who received a staggering $1.373 million for the year to June. ? Read more »

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Should David Bain and his mate Joe Karam pay back their legal aid?

Jock Anderson seems to think so:

Following CaseLoad’s controversial and commonsense analysis of the David Cullen Bain Compo Affair last time, numerous callers at the Ladies & Escorts Lounge have raised some interesting questions.

Some ask if Mr Bain or his supporter Joe Karam have repaid any of the $3.33 million in taxpayer-funded legal aid coughed up for Mr Bain’s 2009 “Not Guilty” retrial – the highest amount in New Zealand legal history. (If they have, good on them.)

And whether or not, in the event Mr Bain gets millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded compensation from the Government, should his legal aid be deducted first???

It was earlier reported that of the $3.33 million, $2.33 million went towards the retrial costs and almost $1 million was paid for expenses in the retrial such as research, investigators and forensics.

$426,000 was paid for Mr Karam’s efforts.

Lawyers’ fees throughout the High Court, Court of Appeal and retrial process amounted to $1.77 million of the total bill.

Most of the costs of the retrial were to pay for overseas experts, according to Mr Bain’s lawyer Michael Privet Reed QC.

Mr Bain did not receive legal aid in his compo bid.

Read more »

More non-disclosure, this time from Fairfax

Michael Bott is quoted on Stuff today about legal aid:

Human rights lawyer Michael Bott said if legal aid was to be treated as a loan, then people receiving it should be able to choose their lawyer.

Under a host of changes to the system, this is no longer possible.

Mr Bott compared the situation with a bank giving a loan for building work and then ordering the customer to use a certain builder.

Making people repay would further pressure people into pleading guilty. Meanwhile, those that can afford it would pay for the legal advice they required.

Mr Bott said he had one client who almost had to sell their family home to cover their legal aid debt.

According to the ministry, assets such as houses or cars can have securities placed over them, which means if they are sold, some of the money would go toward repaying legal aid debt.? Read more »

Another Simon Power screw up

Yet another Simon Power screw up has been revealed, and once again it will have to be Judith Collins who has to repair the damage that FIGJAM rushed through in his final months.

The courts will continue to operate with the current legal aid system for the timebeing despite the Court of Appeal ruling it unlawful.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) launched court proceedings after the Government’s cost-saving shake-up of the legal aid system, which resulted in legal aid lawyers getting a 10 per cent pay cut.

The CBA lost a High Court case but took it to the Court of Appeal, which today held that the Legal Services Commissioner, who is responsible for granting legal aid, was unable to function independently of the Government.? Read more »

Law to out pedos – no way , Law to prevent carboot lawyers – hell yes

The mad law-making abilities of Simon “Pedobear” Power continue.

After telling the Sensible Sentencing Trust that a law to name and shame pedos isn’t on his agenda, he then goes and announces that his priorities are to remove access to lawyers for the poorest people and to make sure his cosy club of approved lawyers gets to fill their boots on the legal aid bill.

Approved by pedobearJustice Minister Simon Power has introduced a bill to Parliament to reform the legal aid system and weed out ”car boot” lawyers.

Dame Margaret Bazley estimated up to 200 lawyers were abusing the system in a critical report released last November.

The Government then announced a reform package in response, The new bill introduced today gives effect to the changes, which include making lawyers pass a competency test before they can carry out legal aid work.

“This bill shows the Government has acted quickly to address the issues identified in Dame Margaret’s report,” Simon Power said.

“The bill, in conjunction with operational changes already under way, will establish a system that will deliver high-quality legal services to those who need them and ensure that public money is spent properly.”

This is nothing more than knee-jerk law-making in order to protect the income streams of “approved” lawyers. Quite how Simon Power plans to describe “car-boot” lawyers in? apiece of legislation is laughable in the first place. The fact that his timetable has no space to actually address protecting victims and does have space, time and resources to protect income streams of lawyers shows just how out of touch he has become.

Blair Mulholland sums up “Pedobear” Power’s attitude succinctly.

There is always a danger of encouraging vigilantism, of course, but I would rather have the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff than the fence at the top, in that case.? If paedophiles are attacked after paying their debt to society, that is wrong, and those who do it should likewise be punished, but those are the risks you take when you partake in bad touching.? Crazed angry mobs picketing your house and grieving parents attaching electrodes to your balls are a possible consequence one should be aware of before one plays pedobear, I would have thought.

So come on, Simon, let’s set up a register.? Let’s know who these people are before I ask them to babysit for me.

So “Pedobear” Power, how about you explain why there is no time in in you calendar to protect victims, but plenty of time to protect income streams of establishment lawyers?

PS. I know you don’t like me calling you Pedobear (the Whale’s spies say you hate more than FIGJAM), but I’ll tell you what, you stop protecting pedos and I’ll stop calling you Pedobear. Seems fair to me.