Lawyers fail in bid to ditch fees cap

By Kathryn Powley

Justice Simon France. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Justice Simon France. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Caps on legal aid fees are to continue after a High Court judge dismissed an attempt by the Criminal Bar Association to remove restrictions.

In his judgement issued on Friday, Justice Simon France said: "I do not consider whether the lawyers are being paid enough for this work is a justiciable question that a court should address."

He dismissed all points made by the Criminal Bar Association after it filed for a judicial review of the rules.

France said the Secretary of Justice was entitled to set overall rates as he had done; it was not possible to say that the new scheme wouldn't work well; and lawyers were available to represent accused people.

President of the Criminal Bar Association, Tony Bouchier said the outcome was disappointing and a legal counsel was considering the next step, which could be an appeal to the Supreme Court.

He said the association wanted to preserve what had been very good legal aid system but was "very poorly performing indeed".

"These changes don't affect people who can afford to employ their own lawyer, this is really an attack on the poor people."

- Herald on Sunday

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