Legal Aid Board to win powers to raid bank accounts to reclaim fees

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Radical new legislation will empower the Legal Aid Board (LAB) to raid the bank accounts of legal aid recipients who are expected to repay some or all of their costs, the Irish Independent reports.

The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Bill 2015 is expected to include provisions which will empower the LAB to force convicted criminals to make a contribution to their legal costs if it is believed they can afford it.

The ability of criminals to make contributions will be determined in conjunction with CAB, the Department of Social Protection and other government agencies.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will bring the heads of the bill to the Cabinet before the election and it is expected to feature in the Fine Gael manifesto.

Ms Fitzgerald told the Irish Independent: “If criminals got legal aid, I’m going to give a power to look at assets and to make sure there is a contribution if there is any question of them having assets.”

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