As the Deputy will be aware, arrangements for the provision of legal aid differ between Civil Legal Aid and Criminal Legal Aid and I will deal with each in turn in responding to his question.
Criminal Legal Aid
Under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, it is the Courts, through the judiciary, that are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant for criminal legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the Court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation for him/herself. The Court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the gravity of the charge or exceptional circumstances, it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid.
Statistics for expenditure on criminal legal aid are not compiled in a manner allowing expenditure to be readily identifies on a county-by-county basis. Expenditure on criminal legal aid in each of the years 20181 to 2019 (June 2019) is set out in the following table:
Year Expenditure €m
2019 (June 2019)
31.273 (June 2019)
I am advised by the Courts Service that it is not possible to provide statistics in respect of the refusal of applications for criminal legal aid by the courts.
Civil Legal Aid
The provision of civil legal aid in the State is delivered by the Legal Aid Board pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017. The Board operates 30 full time law centres and a number of part time law centres in Ireland. The Board also provides mediation services to help separating couples to negotiate their own agreement.
The majority of the Board's income consists of a grant received from my Department. This funding is used to provide the Board's services in all its offices across the country, as well as the support services provided to law centres centrally from the Board's head office.
As with criminal legal aid, it is not possible to extract and isolate the total cost of civil legal aid in any one office or county in a given year. To do so, it would be necessary to devise a basis on which to attribute, to each county, all expenditure incurred by the Legal Aid Board centrally. Complexities may also arise at local level, for example a client living in County Limerick may choose to apply for legal aid to Ennis Law Centre. It is also important to note that in a case where two parties to a dispute seek the services of the Board at one law centre, one of the parties concerned will be required to engage with a different law centre, which may be in a neighbouring county.
However funding provided to the Legal Aid Board by my Department for the years 2018-2019 is set out in the following table:
Year Budget Allocation €m