Court cases in the Goulburn Electorate that require legal aid will be finalised more efficiently and effectively with the NSW Government investing an additional $88 million in Legal Aid NSW, driving a fairer and more efficient justice system.
Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said this new funding will support economically disadvantaged members of the community accessing free legal help.
“Private lawyers run 70 per cent of all cases requiring legal aid funding. Here in our area, that number rises to 80 per cent,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
“This investment will mean greater access to legal representation for people doing it tough and will support small local law firms in the Goulburn region helping our community through the worst drought in a century.”
These reforms will allow the Legal Aid NSW Board to increase lawyers’ hourly rates progressively to levels comparable with other states and territories. Solicitors’ hourly rates will rise progressively from the current $150 to $195 in 2023-24, with barristers’ fees also increasing over the same period.
The overhaul of private practioners’ fees in legal aid matters will also encourage more lawyers across NSW to offer their valuable services to Legal Aid.
Structural changes introduced progressively for pre-hearing work will allow lawyers to spend more time with their clients and preparing for cases, as well as promoting the timely finalisation of matters.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said this announcement builds on the NSW Government’s record investments into Legal Aid NSW.
“These reforms will support a more efficient justice system and a more sustainable legal assistance sector, reducing the risk of delays, or worse, matters being dismissed for lack of adequate legal representation,” Mr Speakman said.
“This Government is already providing $224 million in funding to Legal Aid in 2019-20, more than doubling its funding compared with 2010-11.”
Structural reforms will commence progressively from 1 January 2020 and private lawyers’ fees will increase progressively from 1 July 2020.