Legal aid lawyers get pay rise in new law

| 16/10/2015 | 6 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): After “many false starts”, the long awaited legal aid bill passed through the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, paving the way for more means-testing of those who receive legal aid. It will also hand the decision to grant cover to a director of legal aid, meet the requirements of the Bill of Rights and cap the hours and total bill for lawyers working on legal aid cases. But the law also gives lawyers who do legal aid work a raise for the first time in 12 years, increasing the rate from $135 to $160. 

Noting that there had always been concerns over the money spent on legal aid for criminal cases, Premier Alden McLaughlin said the Bill of Rights required everyone to get a fair trial. He said the goal of the new bill was to both manage the costs and meet those requirements. While the law was unlikely to solve all the problems relating to covering the legal costs of those who can’t afford representation, he said, the legislation was a proper modern framework to contain those costs.

Concerns were raised about the law by East End MLA Arden McLean regarding the threat to judicial independence, with a civil servant set to make the decisions about who gets what, and he also queried why foreign lawyers were not required to do pro bono work. However, the law was broadly supported by members.

The bill was presented by the Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, who said it would provide for more efficient management of the legal aid regime. He outlined the new more intense scrutiny of assets and means testing, giving greater powers of recovery of contributions from people to the costs, the caps on time and cash for lawyers doing legal aid work and the creation of a new director of legal aid.

The AG said that the legal aid system worked and provided a high caliber of representation and good value for money, and various reports and reviews had concluded it was still cheaper than a public defender’s office, despite costs. But the introduction of a more robust means testing regime, he said, would help to recover contributions from people for their legal aid representation. He also said greater oversight and the caps of ten hours of legal aid work and a limit of $20k per case would help control costs.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Another arm of government that sets its own salaries & pensions. Ever look at what the judges & retired judges are getting off us?
    And we often turn around and give them double-dipping high pay jobs thats even more crippling to us.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I quite like this. In theory it means efficient defense due to the limited time and funding and less wasted court time. Whether the theory works in the real world is a different story.


    • Anonymous says:

      What $160 per hour…. SLIME, SLOW or FLOW whatever they are called now are charging $150 per hour to add a phone extension in people’s houses nowadays.
      Let get real…. $160 is a pittance of a fee for an attorney.


  3. Lamron da great says:

    makes me sick! The AG office is what needs to be capped, its a waste of money with its current management. Nothing more than another attempt to leverage the dismal performance by his pal Cheryl and the DPP office. Now when you are poor and not of certain means they can attack you without representation. But the Human Rights Court in Europe is the solution to this Bully. Our dim “leaders” are going to be voted out for their lack of spine and GENUINE disregard for the people of these islands.



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