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Legal Aid

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 July 2020

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Questions (947)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

947. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will expand the criteria of the means test for civil legal aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15567/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The statutory position regarding the provision of civil legal aid derives from the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 under which the Legal Aid Board was established as the statutory provider of legal aid through the civil legal aid scheme.

To qualify for full legal aid under the scheme, an applicant must satisfy both a means test and a merits test. Approximately two thirds of the cases dealt with by the Legal Aid Board, under the civil legal aid scheme, are connected with family law matters.

The Legal Aid Board reviews the operation of the civil legal aid scheme and submits proposals to my Department for consideration on an ongoing basis. My Department works with the Legal Aid Board in evaluating these proposals with the aim of optimising the ability of the board to provide civil legal aid to persons of insufficient means.

I would also like to draw the Deputy’s attention to the fact that comprehensive proposals for a modernisation and reform of the family court system, which include the preparation of a Family Court Bill, are being developed by my Department. Those proposals will involve a broad consideration as to the best means of providing access to various family law mechanisms available to those families involved in private family law cases. That consideration will also allow for an examination of the recommendation contained in the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality Report on Reform of the Family Law System concerning the need for a full review of the legal aid scheme.

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