Third lawyer to help families at quake inquiry

10:26 pm on 22 August 2011

A third lawyer is to be appointed to the Royal Commission to work specifically with the families of Christchurch earthquake victims.

The families told the Government they want legal assistance so they can fully understand the legal and technical complexities of the commission's work.

They are concerned that some families have not yet been able to present their evidence to a commission lawyer.

Prime Minister John Key says the Cabinet agrees that the families need more legal assistance and a extra counsel will be appointed to the commission.

Mr Key says the lawyer can't be paid out of the existing budget so extra money will be provided. Initial estimates put the cost at about $375,000.

The families had wanted the Government pay the legal costs for individual lawyers to represent them; however Mr Key says the extra counsel is a compromise offer.

A spokesperson for the families, Maan Alkaisi, says the appointment ignores the request for an independent lawyer not connected to the Royal Commission.

Mr Alkaisi says he will meet with other family members on Tuesday to discuss their options.