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Advocates outline legal aid issues

Big savings could be made within the Island's legal aid system

That's the belief of two senior members of the Manx Bar who gave a presentation to Tynwald members this week.

John Wright and Dawn Jones's talk was entitled, "Legal Aid in Criminal Cases - An Advocate's Approach".

Whilst not wishing to apportion blame in any specific direction, they catalogued a series of problems within the system and how savings could be made by streamlining and changes to working practices.

Problems include duty advocates being called to the police station, only to discover they can't actually get to see their client and the court not timetabling properly, leaving advocates sitting around waiting for cases to be called.

Dawn Jones also listed what she described as the "complete and utter inability of the Attorney General's chambers to respond to any letter you send"

Mr Wright agrees this is a problem, for example when a court orders disclosure of un-used material, something which used to be dealt with very quickly: (play audio)

Mr Wright says there has already been an investigation into how the AG's prosecution team is working - but the report hasn't been published.

But he hopes some of the issues can be addressed, leading to bigger savings without recourse to slashing the rate of legal aid.

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