NI: Bar of NI criticises budget focus in Access to Justice Review II
The Bar of Northern Ireland has criticised the Department of Justice’s second Access to Justice review for focussing too greatly on cutting legal aid costs.
In its response to the consultation on the Report of the Access to Justice Review Part II, published by Justice Minister David Ford late last year, the Bar said the Department had focussed “too greatly on opportunities to cut costs and address budgetary constraints rather than representing a genuine attempt to improve the access and services offered to the public through the legal aid system”.
It also said that services “must be planned based on need, not budget” and the Department had so far “failed to accurately and appropriately profile and quantify the need for legal services in Northern Ireland”.
The Bar developed its response to the Department’s report, which made more than 150 recommendations, over the three-month consultation period that ended in February 2016.
The full response, now published on the Bar’s website, incorporates the views of its membership and a number of the specialist Bar Associations, including the Criminal Bar Association, Personal Injury Bar Association, Family Bar Association and Young Bar Association.