Rotorua legal aid office to close

By Georgina Harris

1 comment

A local lawyer is disappointed by the decision to close Rotorua's legal aid office - a closure which will affect 15 staff.

The Ministry of Justice has announced six of its eight offices will close in the first half of next year, including Rotorua.

Local litigation lawyer Brian Foote, of Brian Foote Law, said he was disappointed at the decision.

"We've developed a relationship [with the legal aid service] over the years, good working relationships. People will lose their jobs."

Ministry of Justice legal aid services general manager Jacquelyn Shannon said there were 15 positions based at the Rotorua office, which will close in June next year.

Ms Shannon said the Ministry of Justice was changing the way it administered the legal aid granting and debt functions by consolidating its operations from eight offices to two offices.

"We are doing this to improve the way we work. Consolidating operations is more efficient and ensures a more consistent national service.

"Our experience is that the vast majority of the 80,000 legal aid applicants per annum who interact with legal aid granting officers do so by email or over the telephone."

Ms Shannon said offices in Waitakere, Napier, Christchurch, Manukau, New Plymouth and Rotorua will be progressively closed over a six month period between January and June next year, with operations based in Wellington and Takapuna, Auckland.

"For those affected staff who do not want to apply for a position in Wellington or Takapuna, we will - if possible - help find them positions in the wider Ministry in their locations."

Mr Foote said it was hard to say what the impact would be on the clients that used the services but he hoped it would not affect them.

"I guess we will have to wait and see what is put in place to ensure applications are assigned quickly."

Legal aid closure
15 positions will be affected by the closure of the Rotorua legal aid office.
The office will close in June next year.
Five other offices in Waitakere, Napier, Christchurch, Manukau and New Plymouth will be closed.
Operations will based in Takapuna, Auckland and Wellington.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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