Inquiry into Legal Aid and Access to Justice

Inquiry into Legal Aid and Access to Justice

8 June 2004

© Commonwealth of Australia 2004

ISBN 0 642 71408 8

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Members of the References Committee (PDF format - 87 Kb) (HTML format)
Terms of Reference (PDF format - 106 Kb) (HTML format)
Executive Summary (PDF format - 138 Kb) (HTML format)
Reccommendations (PDF format - 159 Kb) (HTML format)
Abbreviations (PDF format - 117 Kb) (HTML format)
List of Figures and Tables (PDF format - 86 Kb) (HTML format)
CHAPTER 1 - Introduction (PDF format - 137 Kb) (HTML format)
Previous reports
Conduct of the inquiry
Note on references
CHAPTER 2 - Legal Aid Funding (PDF format - 305 Kb) (HTML format)
Recent history of funding to legal aid
Levels of overall Commonwealth funding
Differences in Commonwealth funding to each State and Territory
The funding model
The Commonwealth Grants Commission model
Committee view
Application of Priorities and Guidelines
The means test
The merits test
Committee view
Breakdown of funding by type of matter: criminal, family and civil
Committee view
Specialist legal services
Environmental Defenders Office
Commonwealth funding for a forensic science institute
Committee view
'Law and order' legislation and increased demand for legal aid
Committee view
The Commonwealth/State dichotomy
In-principle opposition
Administration costs
Inefficient use of Commonwealth funds
Committee view
CHAPTER 3 - Demand and unmet legal need: The lack of data (PDF format - 194 Kb) (HTML format)
The current lack of data
Criticism of the Government's response
What data needs to be collected
Committee view
CHAPTER 4 - Women and Family Law (PDF format - 313 Kb) (HTML format)
Particular issues facing women in accessing justice
Impact of current legal aid funding arrangements on women
Indirect gender bias in current legal aid arrangements
Committee view
The "cap" in family law matters
Committee view
The impact of the Commonwealth and state/territory dichotomy
Committee view
Primary dispute resolution as a prerequisite for legal aid
Committee view
Funding for child representatives
Committee view
Self-representation in court proceedings
Committee view
Lack of coordinated services to deal with domestic violence
Committee view
Inadequacy and inaccessibility of services in rural, regional and remote areas
Committee view
Other areas of law affecting women inadequately funded by legal aid
Committee view
CHAPTER 5 - Indigenous legal services (PDF format - 324 Kb) (HTML format)
Funding for Indigenous legal services
Funding shortfalls
The need for separate legal services
Tendering for Indigenous legal services
Criticism of the decision to tender
Indigenous women's issues
The extent of funding
The need for a review
Family violence prevention services
Conflict of interest
Alternative dispute resolution
Other access to justice issues
Cultural awareness training
Telephone advice and videoconferencing for remote communities
Transport to and from remote areas
Civil legal aid assistance
Committee view
CHAPTER 6 - Legal aid in outer-metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas (PDF format - 268 Kb) (HTML format)
Particular issues facing people in rural, regional and remote areas
How to address problems in rural, regional and remote areas
Current Commonwealth Government initiatives
Use of technology
Committee view
Outreach programs
Committee view
Duty lawyer schemes
Committee view
Assistance for lawyers in rural, regional and remote areas
Committee view
Other possible measures
Committee view
CHAPTER 7 - Migrants and Refugees (PDF format - 220 Kb) (HTML format)
Availability of free legal assistance for migrants and refugees
Legal aid for migrants and refugees
Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme
Access to justice for migrants and refugees: obstacles for effective legal
Restrictions in the Commonwealth Priorities and Guidelines
Need for assistance at primary review stages
Committee view
Interpreter services
Committee view
Conflict of interest issues
Committee view
Migration Agents Registration Authority compliance costs
Committee view
CHAPTER 8 - Other groups with particular needs (PDF format - 212 Kb) (HTML format)
Legal needs of the homeless
Barriers to accessing justice
Strategies to overcome the barriers to accessing justice
Committee view
Mentally ill people
Committee view
Legal needs of young people
Barriers to access to justice
Strategies to overcome the barriers
Committee view
CHAPTER 9 - Pro Bono legal services (PDF format - 249 Kb) (HTML format)
The Third Report
Developments in providing pro bono legal services
Data on the extent of pro bono legal services
Committee view
Structured service provision
Committee view
Pro bono work as a substitute for legal aid funding
Law students
Committee view
Mismatch of pro bono services and community need
Committee view
Conflicts of interest
Committee view
Limited resources of law firms
Proposed changes to Federal Court Rules
Committee view
Costs of litigation
Committee view
The Committee's conclusion
CHAPTER 10 - Self-Represented litigants (PDF format - 272 Kb) (HTML format)
Increasing numbers of self-represented litigants
The Third Report
The current situation
Is there a link with the level of legal aid funding?
Other reasons for self-representation
Individual choice
Prohibition on representation
Unavailability of legal practitioners
Committee view
Effects of self-representation on access to justice
Increased costs
Economic cost not quantified
Demand on court and registry time
Other parties? costs
Committee view
Effective administration of justice impaired
Compromising the judicial role
Objectivity in assessing own case and non-enforcement of rights
Quality of evidence and argument
Counsel acting to disadvantage of own client
Minimising the adverse effects of self-represented litigants
Improving community information
Expanded duty lawyer schemes
Unbundling legal services
Lay assistance
Measures taken by federal courts
Committee view
CHAPTER 11 - Community legal centres (PDF format - 236 Kb) (HTML format)
The Third Report
The Commonwealth's contribution to community legal centres
Impact of current legal aid arrangements on community legal centres
Increased pressure due to reduced availability of legal aid
Lack of funding
Staffing and operational issues
Committee view
Policy advocacy
Committee view
Commonwealth government support for legal aid
Legal aid funding and agreements
Legal aid renegotiations
Policy issues
Women and access to legal services
Pro Bono Legal Services
Community Legal Centres
Report Recommendations
APPENDIX 1 - Submissions received (PDF format - 213 Kb) (HTML format)
APPENDIX 2 - Witnesses who appeared before the committee (PDF format - 146 Kb) (HTML format)
Port Augusta, Tuesday 11 November 2003
Melbourne, Wednesday 12 November 2003
Sydney, Thursday 13 November 2003
Canberra, Monday 9 February 2004
Canberra, Wednesday 10 March 2004