Jersey's government 'needs to help' with legal aid

Jersey's government needs to share the financial burden of legal aid, according to the Law Society.

The current system means lawyers are given legal aid cases on a rota for the first 15 years they practice.

The Jersey Law Society wants the States to help provide legal aid as all costs are currently absorbed by the solicitor working on the case.

Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, said he would set up a working group to look into the issue of legal aid.

Neville Benbow, from the society, said lawyers were providing advice worth millions of pounds free of charge, and the States should share some of the burden.

'Extraordinary burden'

"Over 100 legal aid certificates are issued every single month and that is an extraordinary burden on lawyers. We are seeing more pressures on litigation, we are seeing more pressures on the courts and on lawyers.

"It is a difficult one because the cost is significant and the cost is rising," he said.

Mr Benbow said people using Jersey's legal aid system would not always get the specialist help they needed.

Advocate Carl Parslow said having a tailored rota for legal aid would save money and reassure clients.

The current system allocates cases on an ad hoc basis regardless of a lawyer's area of expertise.

He said some Jersey solicitors were being pushed to the brink of financial ruin looking after complex legal aid cases.

"It could take many hundreds of hours to deal with and if one is looking at a very small law firm that could have a detrimental affect on their bottom line as they would be working 100% on that case," he said.

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