Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 The contingency 1 ega 1 aid fund is a Northern Territory response to thi s situation and is a step in the right direction in dealing with the crisis confronting the legal aid system. Similar schemes exist in Western Australia and Hong Kong. Such a scheme has also been proposed in the United Kingdom and it is under consideration by law societies in most of the other Australian states. The scheme is completely dependent on acceptance by the private professional, and it will operate as follows. The application for legal aid will be divided, as always, into the 2 categories of the means of the app 1 i cant to pay for 1 it i gat i on and the merits of 1 it i gat ion. Once the commission concludes that there is merit in the applicant's case, but that the applicant does not qualify for legal aid on a means test, that person may be offered the chance of funding the civil litigation by means of the contingency fund. The contingency fund would then agree with a solicitor on the fee that he was to be paid. Thi s fee would be reduced to an agreed degree below the normal cost that the lawyer would be entitled to. This represents the lawyer's contribution to the legal aid scheme. However, the fund would require the litigant, though only if successful, to pay a higher fee to the fund. Thi s excess woul d then be pa i d back into the fund for use in further civil proceedings. Such a scheme has operated in Hong Kong since 1984. Unlike the Western Australian scheme, it is restricted to actions for damages for death or personal injury. The fund was established originally by a loan but, over the last 5 years, a pool of money has been built up by a sufficient number of successful cases so that now the loan has been repaid and the fund is completely self-financing. Because of the contingency element of the scheme, which ensures that the difference between the amount that the lawyer is paid and that which the client is charged is paid to the fund and not to the lawyer himself, there have been no ethical objections to such a scheme. The remainder of the bill deals with administrative and miscellaneous provisions. I hope honourable members will recognise that this legislation is further evidence of the government's commitment to discharging, as fully as its resources permit, all functions of statehood and publ ic service. I commend the bill to honourable members. Debate adjourned. PLUMBERS AND DRAINERS LICENSING (VALIDATION) BILL (Serial 265) Bill presented and read a first time. Mr MANZIE (Attorney-General): Mr Deputy Speaker, I move that so much of standi ng orders be suspended as woul d prevent the Pl umbers and Dra i ners Licensing (Validation) Bill (Serial 265) passing through all stages at these sittings. Motion agreed to. Mr MANZIE (Attorney-Genera 1): Mr Deputy Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this bill is to validate 2 meetings of the Plumbers and Drainers Licensing Board and the decisions taken by that board late last year. It is unfortunate that such validating legislation is necessary. 8814
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