In June 2022, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee established the Civil Legal Aid Review Group to review the current operation of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme and make recommendations for its future.
The Civil Legal Aid Scheme is administered by the Legal Aid Board, which provides legal aid and advice to people who qualify for assistance. This legal aid or advice can be in relation to a dispute between one individual and another, or between an individual and an organisation.
It is important to note that Civil Legal Aid is different from Criminal Legal Aid. Civil Legal Aid can only be sought in the case of non-criminal legal matters. Criminal Law cases cover conduct which is against the law, such as theft and fraud.
The Group established to review the Scheme is made up of representatives from the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC), the Irish Traveller Movement, academics and researchers, legal professional representatives, officials from government departments and agencies. It is chaired by the former Chief Justice, Mr. Frank Clarke.
As part of its work, the Group wants to hear from you about your experience of having a civil, i.e. non-criminal legal issue. The Group would like to know how you might have resolved that issue, whether you accessed the Civil Legal Aid Scheme and if so, how well it worked for you. Your participation lets you have your say on how we can improve things for the benefit of all.
This consultation is designed for members of the public. A separate consultation for organisations with a stake in this issue is also being held and a further piece of consultation work with groups is in development.
What we are consulting on
Civil (or non-criminal) legal issues can include many different areas, for example:
a family law matter, such as custody, maintenance, separation
We are interested in hearing about how you worked to resolved your issue and, in particular, your experience of engaging with the Civil Legal Aid Scheme, if applicable. This engagement can be simply applying for Civil Legal Aid or receiving legal advice and representation through the Scheme.
We would also like to hear about your views on how access to justice could be improved for those on low incomes.
What we are asking you to do
We would like you to complete the survey at the link below to share your experiences. You can do so completely anonymously and in confidence.
The survey will close at 6pm on Friday, 3 February 2023.
It is important to note that if you are or were involved in a family court proceeding, you should not provide any information on what occurred in court. This is because family cases in court usually occur in private (‘in-camera’) and those involved are not permitted to discuss the case with anyone who is not involved.
What will happen to what you tell us
All your responses will be reviewed by the Civil Legal Aid Review Group and will inform its work. This consultation is a valuable opportunity to contribute as the Review Group works to improve how the Civil Legal Aid Scheme operates for everyone.
After all of our consultation processes have finished, we hope to publish a report outlining what people have told us about their experiences and their views - both on the Scheme and more general access to justice issues.
You can have your say by visiting the survey through the icon below.