GOVERNMENT

Minister pleased with progress following legal aid report

Friday 7 October 2011, 2:22PM
By Simon Power
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The Government is satisfied with steps taken by the Law Society to address concerns about the quality of legal aid providers and is not planning to appoint an independent regulator for the profession, Justice Minister Simon Power said today.

Dame Margaret Bazley’s report in 2009 into legal aid identified serious problems with the quality of legal services and criticised the Law Society for its over-reliance on complaints as an indicator of lawyers who are failing to perform.

The report recommended the Government give the Law Society three years to improve the exercise of its regulatory functions, for example, ensuring lawyers’ competency, and , if improvement was not forthcoming an independent regulator for the legal profession be appointed.

Mr Power fast-tracked the review to take place within two years.

“The Law Society has worked closely and effectively with the Legal Services Agency and its successor agency, the Legal Services and Treaty Group at the Ministry of Justice, to improve the quality of the legal aid system,” Mr Power said.

“I commend the work they’ve done to increase legal experience and professional competency requirements for lawyers practising on their own, and to improve the complaints and disciplinary processes.

“Consequently, I'm happy to confirm that the Government has no plans to appoint an independent regulator of the legal profession.”

Background:

The Legal Services Act 2011 contains the Government’s response to the Bazley report. More information on it can be found here.