Saturday, November 8, 2008

Follow up on Attorney Fees and Appointed Counsel

I asked in The Indiana Law Blog: Ind. Courts - More on: "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you" what Hoosiers might think of the British legal aid program. Then came this bit of news from Scotland:

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill claims this will increase eligibility for one fifth of the entire Scottish population.

The announcement was made at a legal aid conference in Dunblane

"I have long considered it unfair that people of relatively modest means can find themselves unable to pursue a complex and expensive legal action," he said.

"As a first step towards correcting that unfairness we will increase the financial eligibility limits for civil legal aid with an appropriately tapered contribution regime. From next spring, the upper limit for disposable income will increase to £25,000 which should mean that around three quarters of the adult population will be potentially eligible for legal aid. For the first time in many a year, legal aid is being rolled out, not rolled back."
As of today, that amount converts to $39,470.00. I might work this out in more detail but generally I think we are missing something here. If access to the legal system depends on private pay, then access becomes limited to those who can afford to pay. Yes, Indiana has statutes for attorney fees but this is something different.

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