2014 archive

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Review of criminal legal aid fixed fees – operational policy changes

5 December 2014 - The preliminary consultation in the review of criminal legal aid fixed fees has raised a number of operational policy matters which can be addressed immediately.

Provider approvals of client eligibility for the Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS)

1 October 2014 - We recently carried out our first round of checks on FLAS providers' compliance with eligibility testing. The checks were to find out whether FLAS providers understood how to apply the client eligibility test correctly, and to identify anything that needed clarification.

While the majority of FLAS providers appeared to be comfortable with the new processes, we found a few things that needed further clarification. Most importantly, providers with the FLAS approval need to remember to:

  • black out the unique identifier on the copy of their client’s proof of identity - a requirement of the Privacy Act 1993
  • sign the Funding Declaration form. This is important as it verifies that the provider has viewed the proof of identity and evidence of their client’s eligibility for the service. Note: This cannot be delegated to someone in the office, it must be signed by the lead provider with the FLAS approval.

The checks looked at all parts of the eligibility test, including the financial eligibility assessment, identity verification, recording in the Resolution Management System and the provider’s declaration.

New legal aid fixed fees - Public Safety (Public Protection Orders)

25 September 2014 - The Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill is expected to become law by early 2015. In readiness for this new piece of legislation, legal aid fixed fees have been developed for Civil (Public Protection Orders) and will be available for use once the Bill has passed and is in force.

PPOs will be Civil orders made in the High Court, and will only be sought against those with a serious sexual or violent history who have finished or are about to finish their sentence or placement. In a proceeding under this piece of legislation, Corrections will be the applicant while the respondent will be the person against whom the Order is sought.

Consultation about the fixed fees for these Orders was progressed during August and September 2014 with NZLS and ADLS Committees, NZLS members, and legal aid providers. A Wellington-based workshop was also held with Parole providers. No issues were raised. It was agreed that it is most likely that respondents will turn to their Parole providers for assistance when defending a Public Protection Order application.

Legal aid payments to firms

1 September 2014 – All legal aid payments made to firms during the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 has been published on our website.

The payments to firms are for legal aid services provided by listed providers under the legal aid schemes and may not have been made directly to any individual named in this report. The payments 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.

Employment legal aid fees

27 August 2014 - Legal Aid Services has reviewed the fees for proceedings under the Employment Relations Act 2000, and has agreed on a fixed fees schedule for Employment matters to be introduced from 1 March 2015.

A new Civil disbursement policy that supports this movement to fixed fees will be available on the Legal Aid Services' website in February 2015.

The New Zealand Law Society provided its members with an opportunity to comment on the draft fixed fees schedule, and Legal Aid Services' consulted with those providers who do 60% of Employment legally-aided cases. Legal Aid Services would like to thank all those who participated in the consultation.

Amended Supervised Provider Policy

28 July 2014 - Legal and Operational Services has updated the Supervised Provider Policy for legal aid providers, following consultation with the New Zealand Law Society, the Auckland District Law Society, the Criminal Bar Association, the New Zealand Bar Association and legal aid lawyers.

In line with providers’ feedback, the new amended policy introduces greater discretion for lead providers to decide the appropriate level of supervision for work they delegate to a supervised provider.

Please note that lead providers’ regulatory responsibilities have not changed – they’ll continue to be responsible for the quality of supervised providers’ work, regardless of the level of supervision.

We wish to thank respondents for your insights. They were carefully considered in shaping the final policy.

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988

Legal Aid Services is changing the way it assesses applications for legal aid in proceedings under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 (‘PPPR Act’).

From 4 August 2014, unless there are Court orders in place appointing the applicant as Welfare Guardian or Property Manager (or there is an Enduring Power of Attorney) we will treat the person of full age and capacity as the applicant for legal aid in PPPR proceedings. In these circumstances, the application for aid will be assessed on the applicant’s finances.

Legal aid forms

7 July 2014 - An updated version of the installer is available. We originally told you in the webinar that the version to download is v5.4, however the latest version is called v6.5.

It includes a fix for the calculation of fixed fees on form 22 and updated fixed fee amounts to include the July 7 changes.

Criminal parole assignments and travel disbursement

14 March 2014 - To clarify the policy on criminal parole assignments, a new section has been added to the assignment policy explaining when criminal parole cases may be assigned to providers based outside the location where the case is to be held. The travel disbursement policy has also been updated as a result.

Review of Family and ACC Fixed Fees and Disbursements

10 March 2014 - Consultation with legal aid lawyers about the Family and ACC fixed fees closed on 7 February 2014.

The intention of the review was to address gaps in and issues with the fixed fees schedules, along with some procedural issues. A number of issues with disbursements were also identified.

Changes will take effect from 31 March 2014. By that date, revised guidelines, policies and schedules will be uploaded to the Legal Aid website.

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