Legal Aid Scheme consultation opens
Islanders have until Wednesday 29 September to offer their views on a proposed new Legal Aid scheme, which would help to ensure legal representation is available to all Islanders.
Following the passing of the Access to Justice (Jersey) Law 2019, the Legal Aid Guidelines Advisory Committee (made up of judicial and legal professionals and with representation from States Assembly Members) have developed the scheme.
The proposed new scheme would replace the scheme currently offered by the Law Society of Jersey and includes a number of changes for assessing who should be eligible for Legal Aid. These include:
- Assessing financial eligibility based on an individual’s capital and income levels, rather than based on their household capital and income levels
- Removing the residency test for people applying for Public/Criminal Law Legal aid
- Introducing a minimum 12-month resident test for Private/Civil Law Legal aid
Removing the requirement to pay contributions towards Public/Criminal Law Legal aid, and the introduction of an accredited panel of criminal lawyers to provide legal aid in criminal cases
All applicants will be required to show that they meet the financial and residency criteria depending on whether they are seeking Legal Aid for a Public/Criminal Law matter, or a Private/Civil Law matter. Legal Aid will only be granted for cases which have legal merit.
Following the consultation, the scheme will be considered by the States Assembly. Provided the States Assembly do not object, the scheme will come into effect on 1 January 2022.
Islanders can take part in the consultation in several ways:
- Via the consultation pages on the Government of Jersey website
- Via email, to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Via paper copies, available from Morier House, the Judicial Greffe and Jersey Citizen’s Advice. Responses can be returned to: Legal Aid Consultation, 19-21 Broad Street, St Helier, JE2 3RR
- Via phone on (01534) 440684. Islanders will be able to leave a message, and someone will call them back to receive their views
Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “It’s vital to ensure that everyone can obtain legal representation – regardless of their income. This proposed scheme offers an opportunity to improve the provision of legal aid in Jersey and ensure that Islanders can access support with the costs of legal representation if that is required.
“I would like to thank the Legal Aid Guidelines Advisory Committee for developing this new scheme.”
Members of the public can submit their views, which can then be taken into account before the scheme is finalised for implementation in January 2022.
More information is available via the Government of Jersey website
Government of Jersey News Release.