The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, as part of a broader civil justice reform programme, has updated the government in relation to plans to commence a review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme in Ireland.
Disposable Income of Under €18k
First introduced by the government in 1979, the purpose of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme is to provide legal advice and representation in court to people who cannot afford to pay for a solicitor. In order to qualify for the scheme, applicants must show that they have an annual disposable income of under €18,000, as well as disposable capital assets (not including the family home) valued at under €100,000. Announcing the review, Minister McEntee said:
“Since the Civil Legal Aid Scheme was first established over 40 years ago, Irish society has changed and the demands on the Scheme have grown.
“To provide maximum benefit to the people it was established to serve, within the finite resources available to fund legal aid, I believe that a robust, comprehensive review of the Scheme as committed to in Justice Plan 2022 is an important step.
“The review will allow for an assessment of how well access to justice is facilitated by our Civil Legal Aid Scheme, particularly for those on low incomes. The Review Group will make recommendations for its future, including in relation to eligibility.”
One Year to Complete Findings
The review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme is to be led by retired Chief Justice Frank Clarke, with the review group given one year to complete their findings when they commence in June of this year. Membership of the review group will also include those who work with marginalised groups, legal practitioners, academics, department officials and representatives from the Legal Aid Board. Throughout the duration of their work, the review group will make periodic reports to the Justice Minister on the status and progress of their findings before submitting their final report in the summer of 2023.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*