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Transforming the legal aid system

The legal aid system needs to be transformed for it to become more effective. Final report and recommendations. November 2009.

Legal Aid Review - November 2009

Download PDF version of the report


Preface from the Chairperson

Executive summary

Summary of recommendations

About the review

Terms of reference for the legal aid review




Transforming the legal aid system

Evolution of the legal aid system

Components of an effective legal aid system

Need to address system-wise failings

More efficient machinery for the legal aid system

Problems with management and governance in the legal aid system

Administrative costs unsustainable

The Crown Entity model: the best machinery?

Changing the focus of the legal aid system

A focus on direction-setting

      • Transformation based on information and benchmarking

A focus on customer service

      • Ensure people know what to expect from their legal aid lawyer
      • Meeting people's needs at court and beyond
      • Making the most of the teachable moment for first-time defendants and their families
      • Barriers to accessing legal aid
      • Legal needs of Māori and Pacific peoples

A focus on initial advice and assistance

      • The benefits if initial advice and assistance
      • The problem: fragmented services
      • Community law centres
      • Duty solicitor scheme
      • Police detention legal assistance scheme

People, quality and accountability

Problem clients and repeat clients

The system's lawyers

      • Problems with some lawyers

Improving quality in the legal aid system

      • Raise the barriers to entry
      • Focus on groupings of lawyers
      • Incentives for lawyers to maintain competence, quality and integrity
      • Training and mentoring of junior lawyers
      • Enforcement and sanctions
      • Remuneration rates
      • Roles and responsibilities for quality and descipline

Procurement of legal aid services

Publicly provided services

    Flexibility in procurement

        • Bulk funding of groups headed by senior lawyers
        • Capitation-based funding
        • A role for senior specialist lawyers

    Streamlined eligibility assessment for high-volume, low-cost cases

    Preferred lawyer policy

      Management of high-cost cases

          • Prosecution-defence escalation scale

      Administrative arrangements for Waitangi Tribunal claims


      People who met with the Review Chairperson

      People who made submissions on the discussion paper

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      2009 © Crown Copyright

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