The Government owes about 200 attorneys-at-law more than $20 million for providing legal aid, and there are indications that the sum could increase.
Hugh Faulkner, executive director of the Legal Aid Department, told a parliamentary oversight committee yesterday that the Government owed legal-aid lawyers $23 million as at November 2012.
Faulkner, along with senior technocrats from the Ministry of Justice, yesterday appeared before Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee.
ARREARS COULD CLIMB
With an influx of attorneys enrolling to provide legal-aid services, Faulkner commented that the arrears could climb if payments were not made to clear the outstanding sum.
He told committee members that the fee structure under the legal-aid system had not been adjusted since 1999.
According to the executive director, the Ministry of Justice was "giving active consideration" to an increase in the sum paid to attorneys who provide legal-aid services.
At least 410 attorneys have enrolled to take legal-aid cases. Of this number, 50 per cent concentrates on civil matters.