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Bill to remove legal aid funding for s 27 sentencing reports before Parliament

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The Legal Services Amendment Bill 2024 was introduced under urgency and read a first time on 20 February 2024. (The second reading debate was interrupted with four speeches remaining.)

This Government Bill proposes to remove legal aid funding for reports or statements under s 27 of the Sentencing Act 2002 (Offender may request court to hear person on personal, family, whanau, community, and cultural background of offender). This will be achieved by way of an amendment to s 99 of the Legal Services Act 2011 (Secretary to refer claim to Commissioner for decision), requiring the Legal Services Commissioner to decline to pay for disbursements of this kind.

New provisions in sch 1AA of the Legal Services Act (Transitional, savings, and related provisions) will preserve the legal aid funding/payment of disbursements of this kind that have been approved (but not yet paid) prior to the Bill’s enactment. As drafted, the Bill will come into force 14 days after Royal assent.

Information about the Bill and its background can be found in Legal Services (online ed, Thomson Reuters) at [CA1], [LA99.06A] and [LA106.02(2)].


Update (6 March 2024)

The Bill completed all remaining parliamentary stages under urgency and was read a third time on 6 March (calendar date) in its original bar-1 form. As noted above, the Bill comes into force 14 days after Royal assent.

By Kevin Leary

Kevin Leary is a Senior Legal Editor in the New Zealand Analytical Law team at Thomson Reuters. He has more than 20 years' experience as an editor of bound books, looseleafs, precedents and their digital equivalents.

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