Terms of Reference

The Legal Aid Committee ('the Committee') is a body established under Section 23 of the Legal Aid Act 1986. Following recommendations by the Legal Services Commission and a Tynwald Select Committee, the Committee was reconstituted and its remit changed in 2013 to:-

  • set the strategic direction and to determine policy which shapes the development of the provision of legal aid in the Isle of Man
  • overview its effective delivery
  • review, as necessary, the actions of the Legal Aid Certifying Officer and their deputy.

Statutory Functions:

  • to determine and review legal aid legislation in the Isle of Man
  • to oversee and review the actions of the Legal Aid Certifying Officer (including their deputy)
  • to deal with complaints outside of the remit of the Legal Aid Tribunal
  • to identify appropriate regulatory amendment or management action within the constraints of the Legal Aid Act 1986

Mission Statement:

The Committee aims to promote access to justice in a manner which is fair, equitable, transparent and professional and which uses public resources carefully and effectively.

How we will do our job:

Principles:

By implementing improvements to the current system and in proposing different approaches to the provision and use of legal aid in the future the LAC will endeavour to promote the principles of:-

  • fairness and equity in access to justice;
  • effective use of limited resources and value for the taxpayers money;
  • transparency, simplicity and efficiency
  • professionalism and continuous quality improvement in practice
  • shaping the service around the needs of its customers / clients / users

Priorities:

The following will be subject to regular review and consideration by the Committee:-

  1. The existing legal aid schemes and processes, identifying areas for streamlining, simplification and improved efficiency through legislative or regulatory amendment or management action.
  2. The current structure of legal aid certification and delivery and exploration of other managerial structures to balance independence and support / direction.
  3. The cost of the legal aid budget and exploration of alternative approaches and whether they would deliver better value for money and service.
  4. Exploration of alternative forms of dispute resolution enabling early agreed settlement rather than adversarial court cases.
  5. The fairness, equity and social implications of legal aid and ascertaining how to ensure it is targeted at those in greatest need and is accessible to vulnerable groups.
  6. The position of legal aid within the wider justice system to ensure broader developments take into account and are influenced by the Committee‘s principles and priorities.
  7. Informing and educating politicians, professionals and the public about legal aid and the challenges the Committee is tackling.

Meetings:

The Committee intends to meet regularly, initially monthly but may convene additional meetings as and when required.

At any meeting of the Committee the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson shall preside and at least 2 other members shall be present. The majority of members present at each meeting must be non-lawyers* Agenda items should, where possible, be submitted to the Committee with accompanying papers. * by virtue of s.23(7) of the Legal Aid Act 1986, “lawyer” means a person qualified to practise law in any part of the British Islands.

The Committee’s minutes are available to view. As is a list of current Committee members

Andrew Swithinbank Chairman
Legal Aid Committee
Agreed and Signed: 28 January 2016