Legal Services Agency
Pokapū Ratonga Ture
Legal Services Amendment Act (2006)
FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The functions of the Legal Services Agency, as described in section 92 of the Legal Services Act 2000 are:
- to administer schemes in as consistent, accountable, inexpensive and efficient a manner as is consistent with the purpose of this Act;
- to fund, provide, and support community legal services for the public or any section of the public, as provided for in part 5;
- to investigate and advise on any matter that is referred to it by the Minister and that relates to schemes or community legal services;
- to carry out any other functions that are conferred on it by this Act or any other enactment (section 92).
These functions have been used as the cornerstones for developing the specific and more detailed role of the Legal Services Agency, as follows:
- To administer schemes in as consistent, accountable, inexpensive and efficient a manner as is consistent with the Legal Services Act 2000 with particular regard to:
- the civil legal aid scheme
- the criminal legal aid scheme
- the duty solicitor scheme
- the police detention legal assistance scheme, and
- any other scheme or service provided for in the Act.
- setting up, contracting with and funding community law centres
- providing or funding law related education and legal information
- undertaking or funding research into:
- existing or proposed schemes and community legal services
- the unmet legal needs of communities and how they may be met.
- receiving advice from the Public Advisory Committee
- funding for individual community law centres, and community law centres in general
- community concerns about, and responses to schemes and community legal services
- research, legal education programmes, information and forms listing approved providers according to criteria.
The Agency is governed by a Board of not more than six members appointed by the Minister of Justice. Members bring a wide range of perspectives on policy issues. The Board's governance responsibilities also include communicating with the Minister and other stakeholders to ensure their views are reflected in the Agency's planning.
The Board employs a chief executive to manage all the Agency's operations. All other employees of the Agency are appointed by the Chief Executive. The Board directs the Chief Executive by delegating responsibility and authority for the achievement of objectives through setting policy.
The senior management team is made up of the Chief Executive, the Manager Corporate, the Manager Grants, the Manager Information Services, the Manager Service Contracts and the Manager Policy and Development.
The Manager Grants oversees four regional mangers who are responsible for the legal aid offices in their region. There are 12 legal aid offices throughout New Zealand and a head office in Wellington.
The staff in the 12 offices make decisions on legal aid grants, sometimes assisted by contracted and in-house specialist advisers who provide advice on complex matters. The Agency also administers the Duty Solicitor Scheme operating in District Courts, and the Police Detention Legal Assistance Scheme. The Public Defence Service provides criminal legal aid and duty solicitor services, alongside private legal aid lawyers, for cases heard at the Auckland and Manukau courts.
While decisions on legal aid made by the Agency may be referred back to the Agency for reconsideration, an independent and separate Legal Aid Review Panel may review the decisions of the Agency.
The Agency also has a role in funding 27 community law centres, from revenue received from the New Zealand Law Society's Special Fund, which is derived from interest earned on lawyers' nominated trust accounts. The Agency also provides support to the centres through contracts, needs assessment, strategic and service development, and audits.
A Public Advisory Committee assists the Agency with advice on community concerns about legal aid, legal aid access, unmet legal needs, community law centre funding, legal information and law-related education needs and areas in need of research. The committee includes representatives from the Agency's "communities of interest", that is: Māori, Pacific peoples, women, people with disabilities, the elderly and youth.
Board Chair: Carole Durbin
Chief Executive: Tim Bannatyne
- The Agency holds the following records:
- Civil/Family and Criminal Legal Aid
- Community law centres
- Duty Solicitor Scheme
- Former Legal Services Board instructions
- Law-related education
- Legal Aid files
- Legal Aid management and information systems
- Legal Aid offices
- Police Detention Legal Assistance Scheme
- Public Defence Service
The Agency also holds some records from its predecessor, the Legal Services Board, including any files on applications that remain open, and closed files for the last four years.
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES
The Agency currently has a manual on its website for listed legal aid providers giving information on the Agency’s policies and procedures in relation to the granting and assignment of criminal and civil/family legal aid. All legal aid application forms and other administrative forms are also online. The Agency also has application forms for funding of community law centres.
Currently a Grants Manual guides staff in the process of granting of legal aid, and the Legal Aid Office Manual assists staff in use of the IT system that records and processes information to enable the provision of legal aid. The Agency is introducing a new computer system for managing legal aid in November 2009 and information and guidance for staff will be in an online resource. Other agency manuals outlining policies and procedures are the Corporate, Human Resources, Finance and the Information Services manuals. The Public Defence Service has a manual and also a Statement of Service to ensure ongoing clarity within the Agency and within the legal profession and the public generally on the core responsibilities and requirements of the Public Defence Service. The Statement of Service is available online.
The Agency has a regular newsletter, LSA News, sent to its providers, which outlines new policy developments and services as they are introduced.
Legal Services Agency Head Office
Prime Property Tower
86-90 Lambton Quay
PO Box 5333 DX: SP22526
Phone: (04) 495 5910
Fax: (04) 495 5911
Northern Regional Office
Level 1, Intergen House
15 Huron St
PO Box 33 702
Phone: (09) 488 5440
Fax: (09) 488 5441
Midland Regional Office
Level 1, Arcadia Building
PO Box 19204
Phone: (07) 834 6124
Fax: (07) 834 6129
Central Regional Office
Level 19, Grand Plimmer Tower
Corner of Boulcott Street and Gilmer Terrace
PO Box 24 149 Manners St
Phone: (04) 472 9040
Fax (04) 472 5250
Southern Regional Office
Level 1, 256 Oxford Terrace
PO Box 130 150 Armagh Street
Phone: (03) 363 6500
Fax: (03) 379 8742
Public Defence Service
Level 10, AFFCO House
12-26 Swanson St
PO Box 90243 AMSC
Phone: (09) 302 1961
Fax: (09) 302 1962
Ground Floor, CST Nexia House
22 Amersham Way
PO Box 76 715
Phone: (09) 261 2501
Fax: (09) 261 2502