Proposal to means test free legal aid

jpc

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It seems some is waking up to the fact that many recidivist criminal are availing of free legal aid.
Not only do they get a solicitor, but SC and JC if required.
Very cursory examination of their ability is made if any.
Its now proposed to check the PPS of anyone claiming free legal aid (FLA)
Last year this cost 55 million euro.
About time given some of the reprobates using this right frequently.
 


corelli

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I don't think anyone will have much difficulty with this as long as it is reasonably applied. No matter how "recidivist" if an accused has insufficient means they are entitled to representation.
 

dresden8

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What if they're a formerly rich developer who's 1.2 billion in the hole?

Or an allegedly corrupt Iar-Thaoiseach whose brief has no faith in his capacity to pay any more, especially since his luck on the horses has run out?
 

jpc

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I don't think anyone will have much difficulty with this as long as it is reasonably applied. No matter how "recidivist" if an accused has insufficient means they are entitled to representation.
It would depend on their activities.
Why should the taxpayer pay for crims seen abroad on holiday or driving large cars.
 

corelli

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It would depend on their activities.
Why should the taxpayer pay for crims seen abroad on holiday or driving large cars.
That would be included in any definition of reasonable. If they turn up to court is a big merc then there would be a presumption that they don't get legal aid.
 

jpc

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What if they're a formerly rich developer who's 1.2 billion in the hole?

Or an allegedly corrupt Iar-Thaoiseach whose brief has no faith in his capacity to pay any more, especially since his luck on the horses has run out?
The dudes you mention pay for their own representation.
But its a fair point given the obstruction evident during the tribunerals by some individuals legal teams.
 

jpc

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That would be included in any definition of reasonable. If they turn up to court is a big merc then there would be a presumption that they don't get legal aid.
But what if they weren't so blatent, but it was known that they lived beyond their stated means?
Who should the court direct to inquire?
Garda, CAB, Social welfare?
 

Elvis Parsley

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Or an allegedly corrupt Iar-Thaoiseach whose brief has no faith in his capacity to pay any more, especially since his luck on the horses has run out?
You're forgetting his potential Man Booker Prize winning book due out in the next couple of months:rolleyes:
 

corelli

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But what if they weren't so blatent, but it was known that they lived beyond their stated means?
Who should the court direct to inquire?
Garda, CAB, Social welfare?
CAB would be the ideal one but they are insufficiently resourced. Social welfare would also be a good call. You could not, though, expect the Gardai to investigate such matters.
 

jpc

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CAB would be the ideal one but they are insufficiently resourced. Social welfare would also be a good call. You could not, though, expect the Gardai to investigate such matters.
Then again they would have the most relevant intelligence that could be presented.
I know where you are leading (Donegal?) but how quickly could you get info from CAB or SW?
 

corelli

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Then again they would have the most relevant intelligence that could be presented.
I know where you are leading (Donegal?) but how quickly could you get info from CAB or SW?
That was not going to be my point. Social Welfare and CAB have the expertise in such matters. The Gardai do not.
 

jpc

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That was not going to be my point. Social Welfare and CAB have the expertise in such matters. The Gardai do not.
Apologies there, but they would be the agency with the most dealings with the individuals in many cases.
 

corelli

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Apologies there, but they would be the agency with the most dealings with the individuals in many cases.
Yes, but not their financial dealings. Is that not the point?
 

borntorum

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I don't think anyone will have much difficulty with this as long as it is reasonably applied.
I agree with you regarding the proposal to means test legal aid. However, the proposal in the Irish Times to limit the assignment of senior counsels (the paper seems to suggest that they will only be certified in murder cases) will surely be controversial. What about rape and s.15A drugs charges? Such a change would also have a huge impact on the criminal bar and therefore I would believe will be heavily resisted by the legal profession.
 

dresden8

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The dudes you mention pay for their own representation.
I'm fairly well off with plus equity of possibly 100k.

One person mentioned is much better off than me with 1.2 billion negative equity.

How come he can afford top class representation and I can't.

That's the one thing I can't understand.
 

corelli

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I agree with you regarding the proposal to means test legal aid. However, the proposal in the Irish Times to limit the assignment of senior counsels (the paper seems to suggest that they will only be certified in murder cases) will surely be controversial. What about rape and s.15A drugs charges? Such a change would also have a huge impact on the criminal bar and therefore I would believe will be heavily resisted by the legal profession.
There is presently a case before the High Court in relation to a farmer being refused a certificate for a Counsel in a district court prosecution for a fairly serious matter where the state were represented by Solicitor and Counsel. Equality of Arms issues.

There will be issues with the matters you raise, I agree.

Actually, it's presently on appeal to the Supreme Court. Carmody v. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
 
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Tressell

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I listened to the interview this morning and just as there are many positives for the above scheme, equally there are as many negatives.

Example 1 being something similar to the Nally Case. A person defends his property from burglary etc. but at the same time commits a criminal offence. Should the middle-class, civic-minded citizen have to source legal rep. according to his bank balance whilst the aggressor gets legal-aid?

A person similar to above defends himself according to his means and wins-Should the state still pay the costs?

A person in Ireland could be 'poor' here, yet live the life-style in foreign climes. Can the state afford witch-hunts all over Europe and elsewhere before a case can be taken?

There were many other examples of pros and cons, geddit! for above scheme, but like cervical vaccines and other budgetary cuts, it will probably be forced through to save €55m rather than examing every avenue.
 

jpc

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I'm fairly well off with plus equity of possibly 100k.

One person mentioned is much better off than me with 1.2 billion negative equity.

How come he can afford top class representation and I can't.

That's the one thing I can't understand.
Not quiet with you there re -1.2 bn man.
What FLA did he get?
I wouldn't get a cent either
 

jpc

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Yes, but not their financial dealings. Is that not the point?
But they could provide evidence of normal modes of transportation for example.
It would leave a bit of explaining to be done in conjunction with CAB evidence if available.
 

borntorum

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I listened to the interview this morning and just as there are many positives for the above scheme, equally there are as many negatives.

Example 1 being something similar to the Nally Case. A person defends his property from burglary etc. but at the same time commits a criminal offence. Should the middle-class, civic-minded citizen have to source legal rep. according to his bank balance whilst the aggressor gets legal-aid?

A person similar to above defends himself according to his means and wins-Should the state still pay the costs?

A person in Ireland could be 'poor' here, yet live the life-style in foreign climes. Can the state afford witch-hunts all over Europe and elsewhere before a case can be taken?

There were many other examples of pros and cons, geddit! for above scheme, but like cervical vaccines and other budgetary cuts, it will probably be forced through to save €55m rather than examing every avenue.
Ther are undoubtedly problems with our criminal legal aid system. As there are problems with every other public service system in this country. Nothing is perfect.

But we should be careful about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Our system enables those whom the State is attempting to convict of a criminal offense to receive legal counsel. Faced with the might of the State, this appears to me to be a fair trade off.

I don't think we want to go down the route of England where criminal legal aid is being slashed. Lawyers can make multiples of what they would earn doing criminal work in commercial and other private spheres. Some of the best lawyers are therefore moving away from criminal work. I dont think that in the long run that outcome would be best for the public and for our society
 


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