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Issues of integrity at stake – Legal Aid Review

Press Release – The Maori Party

Justice spokesperson for the Maori Party, Rahui Katene, has welcomed the comprehensive set of recommendations that has emerged from the review of legal aid conducted by Dame Margaret Bazley.Issues of integrity at stake – Legal Aid Review

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga

Friday 27 November 2009
 

Justice spokesperson for the Maori Party, Rahui Katene, has welcomed the comprehensive set of recommendations that has emerged from the review of legal aid conducted by Dame Margaret Bazley.

“It is of extreme concern to learn that we are talking about a “small but significant group of lawyers” that are considered to be acting corruptly” said Mrs Katene.

“As a former lawyer myself, I am alarmed by the hard-edged analysis of Dame Bazley describing some lawyers as abusing the system to the detriment of clients, the legal aid system, the courts and taxpayers; and I will be very interested in reviewing the evidence of such concerns”.

“In my experience working in a Community Law Centre I am certainly aware of the disconnect that can occur between the Legal Services Agency and the Law Society”.

“We expect lawyers to be above reproach in their respect for the law.   The great majority of lawyers are law-abiding professionals who are driven by principles of accountability, integrity; and respect for the justice system.

“I am pleased to see a specific recommendation to create a better focus on meeting legal needs for Maori and Pasifika peoples and addressing the barriers they face.

“We have always been critical of the systemic bias within the legal system which impact on Maori.  The revelations by Dame Margaret clearly reveal another dimension of that bias to which Maori have no doubt been subjected”.

 “We are also pleased that the review suggests the possibility of double-dipping or even triple-dipping by claimants or lawyers in the context of Treaty of Waitangi Claims will form a stream of the ongoing work”.

“We have been concerned about the excessive numbers of lawyers and the consequential expenditure that has been associated with lawyers appearing before the Waitangi Tribunal, and it may well be time to refresh the rules, to retain the benefit of legal aid but to place some controls around the legal representation”.

“The Maori Party looks forward to being able to participate in the immediate work programme of Government to respond to these recommendations”.

“Issues of integrity are at stake – we commend Dame Margaret on her scrupulous attention to detail and the clarity of her insights in this review”.

 

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