Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Ceisteanna (311)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

311. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of legal aid nationally in each of the years 2015 to 2018, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29969/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware there are two categories of legal aid. These are civil legal aid and criminal legal aid. In answer to the Deputy’s question I can provide the following information in respect of each of these categories of legal aid:

Firstly, 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.

It is not possible to extract and isolate the total cost of civil legal aid in any one office/county in a given year as it would be necessary to devise a basis on which to attribute, to each county, all expenditure incurred by the Board centrally. Complexities may also arise at local level with regard to the delivery of civil legal aid, for example a client living in County Limerick may choose to apply to Ennis Law Centre. Also, in a case where two parties to a dispute seek the services of the Legal Aid Board at one law centre, one party will be required to engage with a different law centre, which may be in a neighbouring county.

Funding provided to the Legal Aid Board by my Department for the years 2015-2018 is provided in the following table:

Year

Budget Allocation 

€m   

2015

32.471

2016

34.838

2017

38.988

2018

40.275

 

In the case of criminal legal aid, the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, which is the primary legislation covering the operation of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, provides that free legal aid may be granted, in certain circumstances, for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Under the 1962 Act, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. Under the Constitution, the State is obliged to provide an accused person with the means to obtain appropriate legal representation.

As in the situation with civil legal aid, statistics for criminal legal aid are not compiled in such a manner as to readily identify expenditure on a county by county basis.

Expenditure on criminal legal aid in each of the years 2015 to 2018 is set out in the following table.

Year 

Expenditure

€m

2015

€50.879

2016

€52.998

2017

€58.139

2018

€64.806