Cabinet approves increase in attorneys' legal aid feesThursday, September 23, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— Attorneys-at-law empanelled by the Legal Aid Council (LAC) for complex criminal trial proceedings are to benefit from increased fees, equating to 15 - 25 per cent of those for private lawyers.
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams, says Cabinet approved the increase which, she notes, is in keeping with Section 4(2b) of the Legal Aid Act.
She was speaking during Wednesday's post-Cabinet digital media briefing.
Williams said the LAC approved the introduction of the restructured fees, for these to be prescribed under the Legal Aid Act, and for the issuing of drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for Regulations to give effect to these undertakings.
“The rationale for an increase in the tariff of fees was as a result of the current wide disparity between fees payable at the private bar and fees applied by the Legal Aid Council to empanelled attorneys who offer legal aid services,” Williams indicated.
She said the wide disparity impacted the council's ability to meet the demand for services, “as attorneys may opt not to take on the legal aid assignment”.
“Obtaining an increase in the tariff of fees would allow the Legal Aid Council to ask their attorneys-at-law to accept cases of indigent accused persons, in a timely manner,” the minister further stated.
Williams pointed out that the legal aid regime seeks to guarantee the constitutional rights of all accused individuals to a fair trial, regardless of their ability to pay for legal representation.