Public consultation on proposed changes to Legal Aid
The Legal Aid Scrutiny Review Panel is encouraging the public to give their views on the proposed changes to Legal Aid.
The Draft Access to Justice (Jersey) Law is due to be debated by the States on 30th April 2019 and therefore the Panel would encourage people to get in touch to share their views via the States Assembly website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before 9th April 2019.
In summary the key proposed changes to the scheme guidelines are as follows:
The current scheme is not established in Law, the proposals would place the scheme on a statutory footing. Currently the scheme is funded entirely by the legal profession, for both criminal and civil cases. The proposed scheme would be jointly funded by the Government, who would pay for criminal case legal aid; and the legal profession, who would cover civil case legal aid.
Under the new proposals there would also be changes to the capital and income eligibility criteria as follows:
|If disposable capital is over £15,000 then not eligible.
If disposable capital is under £15,000 but gross household income* is over £45,000 per annum then not eligible.
> £45,000 – liable to pay up to 100% of fees
£35,000 - £45,000 – liable to pay up to 75%
£25,000 - £35,000 – liable to pay up 50%
£15,000 - £25,000 – liable to pay up to 25%
< £15,000 – No liability
*£2,100 is deducted from the total if person lives with another adult.
£2,900 is deducted per child where the child lives with the person more than 50% of the time.
|Disposable capital of £15,000 and gross household income* of £35,000 then not eligible.
> £35,000 – not eligible for legal aid
£25,001 - £35,000 – 50% contribution to costs
£20,001 - £25,000 – 25% contribution to costs
£15,001 - £20,000 – 10% contribution to costs
Under £15,000 – No contribution
*there are no financial exemptions applied under the proposed scheme at present.
Furthermore, as it stands, in the event a defendant of a criminal offence is acquitted, they are eligible to have their defence costs fully reimbursed. In future, if a defendant is acquitted they may only be able to receive back the costs that would have been paid under legal aid.
Deputy Steve Ahier, Chairman of the Panel, says:
“We’d really like to hear from anyone who has an opinion on the proposed changes, particularly those who might have used legal aid in the past, or are in the process of applying. We want to make sure that the changing of the criteria won’t adversely affect those who might need to access the scheme in the future. Please do get in touch by emailing us at email@example.com before 9th April 2019.”