) on behalf ofWhat further steps has he taken to improve access to justice following his announcement last month that the shortfall in funding for community law centres would be addressed?
Last night, at the International Legal Aid Group meeting in Wellington, I announced a fundamental review of the legal aid system. Legal aid has a defining role in upholding access to justice by giving effect to the principle of equality before the law. However, I am concerned that the current system of legal aid may actually lead to inequity by creating perverse incentives to prolong justice, with a negative impact on victims and on costs to the court system.
The review will consider all aspects of the legal aid system, but the purpose is to consider how the system can be best structured so that it delivers effective legal services to those who need them the most in a way that is cost-effective and sustainable. I am very pleased to advise the House that Dame Margaret Bazley will chair the review team, with the rest of the team to be announced at a later date.
Does the Minister stand by his statement that the immediate future of New Zealand’s 27 community law centres has been assured through interim measures that will mean they have the same level of funding next year as they enjoyed in 2008-09; if so, why has the Legal Services Agency not yet rolled over the existing purchase plans?