Government Grants Indemnity

  • Doug Graham

The Minister of Justice, Hon D.A.M. Graham, said today the Minister of Finance had agreed to grant an indemnity for members of District Legal Services Committees and District Subcommittees.

The indemnity covers all actions, suits, claims, demands, judgments, costs and expenses which may arise from decisions made in good faith in pursuance of their duties under the Legal Services Act 1991.

Mr Graham said the Government moved quickly to grant the indemnity after the Legal Services Board brought to its attention recent civil proceedings issued by a Hamilton barrister against all members of Hamilton's district finance subcommittee (a division of the District Subcommittee).

'Members of the Hamilton District Subcommittee, and other subcommittees, were concerned that the Legal Services Board was unable to offer them any form of personal indemnity in relation to civil proceedings against them.

'Consequently, the Hamilton District Subcommittee and other subcommittees were declining to meet to process any further work and District Subcommittee members were resigning in some districts.

'The Government agreed with the Legal Services Board that a formal indemnity was needed for these people who faced court action arising from what is a public function and an essential part of the effective delivery of legal aid.'

District Legal Services Subcommittees process applications for civil legal aid and process claims for fees or disbursements in respect of proceedings for which civil and criminal legal aid is granted. They are not paid for these services.