find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Legal aid restricted as Commonwealth funding dries up

Legal aid restricted as Commonwealth funding dries up

Legal bodies have urged the Abbott government to boost its contribution to legal aid funding or risk important trials being delayed or even aborted.

The Law Council of Australia (LCA), Australian Bar Association (ABA) and NSW Bar Association have warned that trials will be compromised unless the federal government provides urgent funding to the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund (ECCCF).

Last year the government announced it would cut $6.5 million over four years from the ECCCF, which finances expensive Commonwealth trials such as those involving people smuggling, drug cases, social security frauds and terrorism cases.

Since then, the ECCCF kitty has dropped from $10.8 million in 2013/2014 to $2.7 million in 2014/2015, which has already been exhausted.

On 19 December Legal Aid NSW announced it would stop funding lengthy Commonwealth criminal trials listed to start from April 2015, blaming the cuts to the ECCCF and an unusually large number of complex and lengthy trials this financial year.

Legal Aid NSW also plans to cut services in family law cases and matters under Commonwealth civil legislation.

NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham SC (pictured) criticised the Abbott government for what she described as “a very short-sighted exercise in cost-shifting”.

“This will impact directly on the justice system in NSW and indirectly on our national security,” she said, adding that Legal Aid NSW needs an immediate injection of $4 million to safeguard trials in serious federal criminal matters.

LCA president-elect Duncan McConnel warned that if the government does not take immediate action to replenish the fund, Legal Aid commissions in other states could also restrict their services.

Last year, two trials in Victoria’s Supreme Court were adjourned in the first week after Victorian Legal Aid refused to provide instructing solicitors.

The federal government’s share of Legal Aid commission funding has declined from 55 per cent in 1996 to 35 per cent today.

The LCA, ABA and NSW Bar Association are calling on the Commonwealth to restore its share to 50 per cent.

Earlier this month, the Productivity Commission released its report on Access to Justice Arrangements, which included a recommendation that state and federal governments provide $200 million of increased civil legal assistance funding.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Legal aid restricted as Commonwealth funding dries up
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...