New Bill ensures increase in legal aid

AN amendment to a Bill will be proposed today (September 21) to ensure funds can be used to increase the capacity of community legal centres and legal aid in Canberra, says Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay. 

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay.

In the Legislative Assembly today, the “Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2)” will be introduced to amend the “Legal Profession Act 2006”.

Its aim is to provide additional avenues for dealing with complaints of unsatisfactory professional conduct instead of referring these matters to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay says the change would allow funds, currently being used to conduct these disciplinary matters in the Tribunal, to be redirected to other parts of the legal sector.

“The pool of funds used for disciplinary matters can be redirected to access to justice initiatives. By introducing this measure, we are ensuring they will be used to assist Canberrans who need help the most,” he says. 

The amendments do not remove the practitioner’s right to appeal a decision of the Law Society or Bar Association to the Tribunal, or for the Tribunal to discipline legal practitioners for more serious misconduct.

“This amendment demonstrates the government’s commitment to implementing practical solutions to increase the frontline service delivery of our legal assistance providers. It’s a small change, but it supports making more funds available to our community legal centres and legal aid,” Mr Ramsay says. 

This year the ACT government will commit $2.477 million, over four years, to Canberra Community Law, the Women’s Legal Centre, Street Law and the Environmental Defenders’ Office.

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