The Liberal-National Government has committed an additional $1million in the 2012-13 State Budget for Legal Aid WA to fund expensive criminal cases.
Treasurer and Attorney General Christian Porter said the funds would assist those who could not afford legal representation for serious matters in the superior courts.
“This funding is part of the State Government’s commitment to ensuring Western Australians get access to justice,” Mr Porter said.
“It will mean those who are eligible for Legal Aid funding receive a fair trial and will improve equitable access to legal services and information.
“It will also avoid trial dates being vacated and proceedings being stayed.”
Expensive cases are those that cost more than $26,000. The average cost of legal representation for State expensive cases in 2010-11 was $34,693.
The cases have previously been funded through the supplementary funding process, but will now be guaranteed additional funding in the Legal Aid Commission’s budget.
“The terms on which the funding has been granted also allow Legal Aid to recover monies where the full amount is not used due to shorter trial lengths or a later change of plea,” Mr Porter said.
“In these circumstances, funds are retained and applied to other expensive cases.”
In 2011-12, the State Govt provided Legal Aid WA with an $11.6m funding increase over 4 years - the largest funding increase in more than a decade. Included additional funding for grants of aid & an additional 10 duty lawyers
Legal Aid WA is jointly funded by State & Federal governments, but more than 60 per cent of all public funds received by Legal Aid WA are provided by the State Govt
By contrast, Commonwealth funding share has been steadily falling over past decade
Treasurer and Attorney General’s office - 6552 5600