20 Dec 2011

Law Society says legal aid fixed fees unsustainable

7:28 pm on 20 December 2011

Senior lawyers may pull out of doing criminal legal aid work following the release of new fixed fee rates, the Law Society says.

President Jonathan Temm says the rates announced by the Justice Ministry are so low it will be uneconomic for quality lawyers to take on legal aid cases.

Lawyers will earn between $300 and $390 for a guilty plea and a maximum of $550 for a defended hearing.

Mr Temm says the Law Society is not opposed to a fixed fee system, but it has to start from a realistic hourly rate for lawyers.

The Government has not created an enduring solution to the problem because the new system is not sustainable, he says.