607 As noted at the beginning of Chapter 6, the ability of the Legal Services Act 1991 to achieve its objectives depends on the extent to which the provision of legal services available in New Zealand can be coordinated to ensure that adequate services are available to all who need them. The current conception of the field of legal services and the broader civil law system means that legally supported representation services provided by lawyers in private practice must bridge a very large part of the gap between the needs of low-income New Zealanders for state-sanctioned dispute resolution procedures and their ability to afford them. The shortcomings of the civil legislation discussed in this chapter lead to the conclusion that its adequacy for this purpose is seriously compromised. To benefit from legal aid in criminal matters, you must complete an application form. You can get the application form (and free help to fill out) at: 597 Legal aid recipients who are most likely to be exempt from paying the initial $50 contribution are those who initiate mental health proceedings. In the study, conducted on behalf of the Commission des services juridiques, 86% of beneficiaries received mental health exemptions. (MRL AC Nielsen, 11) Of all beneficiaries who received exemptions (17% of the total), the fact that assistance was requested for mental health procedures was the reason or reason given by the district subcommittee in 42% of cases. (MRL AC Nielsen, 66) ”Many of our Maori women know what legal aid is, but they still can`t afford it. The $50 fee is too high for them.
– Transcript of hui with Maori women, Rohe 9 ”In the field of domestic violence, lawyers tend to favour the male client over the female. The clear message is that bps and legal aid are not seen as good money generators. Many women have experienced a lack of quality services from lawyers. A practical example is when the client is with the lawyer and the phone rings The lawyer`s attitude is that the call is more important than the client and the client disrupts the busy and important life of the lawyer. – Filing 228 ”It`s a common problem that clients are not entitled to [legal aid] – a kind of `black hole`, especially in difficult cases that can be expensive and earn too much to qualify, but not enough to pay the costs. – Brief 68 (Counsel) 499 Since 1992, there have been a number of increases in basic benefit levels, family support, the housing supplement and eligible income. Information from Work and Income New Zealand shows that the basic benefit rate for a lone parent with one child on 1 February 1999 is USD 12,870.70 per year and for a lone parent with two children USD 14,472.25. With no additional income, a lone parent with a child now has a ”disposable income” of $1600 in terms of legal aid eligibility criteria. A lone parent with two children has a ”disposable income” of $2400, which means that a county subcommittee would have to determine that there were ”special circumstances” before that person could receive legal aid. 474 Since its introduction in New Zealand in 1969, legal aid in civil matters has been mainly used by women in family proceedings. Research conducted by the Ministry of Justice at the time shows that in 1979 (before the creation of the family courts), more than 93% of applications for civil assistance for ”internal proceedings” were submitted to the District Court.
This research also shows that in 1979, women constituted the vast majority (about 84 per cent) of the beneficiaries of legal aid in civil matters and that the typical applicant ”was a woman, aged 20 to 40, living separately from her husband, working from home and receiving an allowance for domestic purposes”. At the time, 88.5% of legal aid applicants were classified as `disposable income` and 90% as `available capital` (as defined, see paragraphs 483 and 485 below). (Access to the Act, Schedules 5, 75, 85, 115, 101) The similarity with the profile of current beneficiaries of legal aid in civil matters is striking (see Chapter 5, paragraphs 394 and 395). 470 Inevitably, measures to remove barriers identified by women will have fiscal implications. Clearly, the state, and therefore taxpayers, will face an increased bill for judicial system services if the right to civil legal aid is extended in response to their reduced availability, but without further economic changes. The cost of civil litigation supported by the law is already increasing every year, despite considerable efforts in recent years to contain them. In 1997/98, legal aid cost the State $40.32 million (see Chapter 5, paragraph 382). 542 It is clear from what women have said that misinformation about the functioning of the system is at least as widespread as ignorance of its existence.
These are major barriers to citizens` access to legal services, especially when the cost of legal services was the most frequently cited reason by women for not using the country`s 550 lawyers who submitted contributions to this study, saying potential clients are discouraged from seeking civil legal aid. because it takes time to gather the necessary information and complete the application form. Their estimates of the time it took to complete the application form ranged from 10 minutes if the client has all the information to two hours if more than one meeting with the client is required. Some lawyers noted that it usually takes two appointments to complete the form. Applicants who need this assistance will bear a variety of costs related to issues such as transportation and child care to gather all the necessary information and attend appointments with their lawyers. Given that there can be uncertainty about an applicant`s eligibility and that, for some potential applicants, the prospect of the application process and the payment of the initial $50 contribution will be particularly intimidating, it is understandable that the possibility of receiving legal aid is not always sought. • the length of the forms to be completed when applying for legal aid in civil matters; 488 Both the unpaid contributions (whether the initial USD 50 or the calculated additional contribution) and the costs (less the contributions paid) of the legal aid granted to successful applicants (that is to say, the lawyers` fees and expenses) automatically become a burden in favour of the Commission des services juridiques for all assets `recovered or retained` by the beneficiary of the aid in the proceedings. (Article 40(1)(c)) The county subcommittee also has the discretion to collect fees on other properties if it believes it would not be ”unfair or unfair” to charge such fees. (§ 40 para.
1 lit. d and 2) 520 The deterrent effect of the initial contribution on legal aid applicants and the possibility and reality of levies have already been described. In their responses to the consultation paper on women`s access to legal aid in civil matters, lawyers often defended the status quo on the grounds that these aspects of the regime act as a justified deterrent to vexatious litigation and bring the civil aid litigant, like any privately paying litigant, weigh the costs and benefits of their litigation before moving forward. The reason for this is that if legal aid were only a grant, recipients would be much less likely to consider cost factors in their decision and would have an incentive to pursue litigation indefinitely to achieve the best outcome. 592 The district legal services subcommittees have a number of discretionary powers relating to the financial eligibility of applicants and the application of the collection mechanisms of the Legal Services Act. The available information suggests that the exercise of this discretion is unequal from one district to another. 562 The New Zealand legal aid scheme has always been that legal aid should be available only for judicial representation in proceedings and not for legal advice which is not related to legal proceedings. In this respect, the regime differs from many foreign regimes, including the British regime (which will soon be dissolved), under which the New Zealand regime has been closely shaped in all other respects. (See next, NZLC MP8, 24.) Auckland Disability Law helps Aucklanders who have disability-specific legal issues. ”My three children are in Christchurch and I don`t have access to it at all.