Legal aid that cannot be fixed with money

Photo: Radio Waatea Image Database.

Adam Gifford

Sue Moroney: Legal aid can’t be fixed with money

We are asking for a complete overhaul of the legal aid system.

Sue Moroney, chief executive of Aotearoa Community Law Centres, says that although there is an immediate need for more money to process more cases and the impact of Covid-19 on the courts, the system global is down.

She told Waatea radio host Matthey Tukaki that the situation is particularly dire in the areas of family court and juvenile justice, where people cannot find a lawyer to represent them because the rates of wages have dropped so much that they can get private work.

“People who can afford to pay $300 or $400 an hour for a lawyer frankly don’t have the most complex situations and the most complex lives. These are low-income people whose situations are very complex. Private law firms find it difficult to accept these clients because the cases are complex they cost that firm I guess an opportunity cost for other work they might undertake that would be more lucrative for them . So we just don’t think this model is sustainable,” Ms Moroney says.

She says it is time to assess how well the public defense service being tested in South Auckland is working and whether it should be rolled out across the country.

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