Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (931)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

931. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the budgets for criminal and civil legal aid by county each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of persons refused criminal legal aid in each of the years by county; the number of persons awaiting civil legal aid by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the modalities 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 such a manner as to readily identify expenditure on a county by county basis. Expenditure on criminal legal aid in each of the years 2011 to 2019 (June 2019) is set out in the following table:

Year

Expenditure €m

2011

56.116

2012

50.534

2013

50.863

2014

49.890

2015

50.879

2016

52.998

2017

58.139

2018

64.806

2019 (June 2019)

31.273 (June 2019)

I am advised by the  Courts Service that it is not able 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/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.

With regard to the delivery of civil legal aid, 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.

Funding provided to the Legal Aid Board by my Department for the years 2011-2019 is set out in the following table:

Year  

Budget Allocation €m

2011

30.370

2012

32.922

2013

33.759

2014

32.574

2015

32.471

2016

34.838

2017

38.988

2018

40.275

2019

40.796

The number waiting for legal services as of the 1st July 2019 are set out on a law centre by law centre basis in the following table.

A small number of the Legal Aid Board’s law centres operate a ‘triage’ approach which involves giving an applicant a short consultation (45 minutes) for legal advice. Those persons remain on the Board’s waiting list for a second consultation if they require further legal services. The majority of centres do not currently operate the ‘triage’ approach.

Law Centre

Number waiting for first consultation

Number waiting for second consultation

Athlone

41

0

Blanchardstown

36

0

Castlebar

52

0

Cavan

41

0

Clondalkin

31

0

Cork Popes Quay

74

0

Cork South Mall

139

0

Dundalk

55

0

Ennis

14

21

Finglas

113

0

Galway Francis St

58

0

Galway Seville

22

11

Jervis Street

167

0

Kilkenny

57

0

Letterkenny

25

0

Limerick

25

0

Longford

33

0

Monaghan

32

0

Navan

49

0

Nenagh

72

0

Newbridge

24

0

Portlaoise

34

0

Sligo

55

0

Smithfield

75

0

Tallaght

59

0

Tralee

102

0

Tullamore

13

0

Waterford

66

0

Wexford

42

0

Wicklow

49

0