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Three lawyers under legal aid spotlight

Wednesday 6 Oct 2010 1:56 p.m.

The Legal Services Agency is cracking down on lawyers using the legal aid system

The Legal Services Agency is cracking down on lawyers using the legal aid system

The Legal Services Agency is cracking down on lawyers using the legal aid system.

Three Auckland-based lawyers are this afternoon expected to be stripped of their right to access legal aid money, TVNZ reports.

Legal aid is offered to people who cannot afford legal help and is a large part of the justice system – last year 67,000 people received this service.

The action by the Agency comes after concern the lawyers in questions were not offering quality service using the public money.

A report late in 2009 by Dame Margaret Bazley was critical of the way the legal aid system operated – she claimed many lawyers were rorting the system.

Some lawyers were delaying a plea or changing pleas part-way through the process to maximise payments; others were using a District Court law library phone as their office number and interviewing rooms as their offices.

Of particular concern was the Manukau District Court, where Dame Margaret feared up to 80 percent of lawyers could be gaming the system.

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