New fee regime leaves legal aid lawyers frustrated
Lawyers who provide services through the Legal Aid Programme are upset that they will not be paid under a new fee regime for cases completed over the past four months.
Some of the disgruntled lawyers told our news centre the new regime is to take effect next month, instead of the initially announced April date.
They are also contending that the new rates were not gazetted and that the process is just starting.
Usually, announcements take effect after gazetting and are not retroactive.
The attorneys say they were not consulted before the changes.
Some of them say they are contemplating sending back to the court, cases they are now dealing with.
For several years, Legal Aid lawyers have been agitating for new rates to replace the current fee structure that has been in place since 1999.
About two years ago, the government and lawyers, arrived at an agreement for the new rates.
For capital murder, the new rate will be $136,000 up from $60,000.
For non-capital murder, a senior lawyer would get $101,000 up from $45,000.
The rates were also increased for junior lawyers.
Up to news time, we were unable to reach head of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner.