212 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 2 MARCH 2019
Legal Aid should provide professional legal services that cover the following:
(a) Matters that involve the state against the individual where the liberty
or security of the individual is at risk; Commentary 4 below
(b) Children whose security of the person is at risk; Commentary 5
(c) People with mental or intellectual disabilities that impair their liberty,
safety, or access to government or community services;
Commentary 6 below
(d) Family law in circumstances where the physical, economic, or
emotional security of a family member is at risk; Commentary 7
(e) Persons disadvantaged due to circumstances of poverty; Commentary
(f) Immigrants and refugees. Commentary 9 below
Legal aid is an essential public service and, as such, governments bear the
responsibility to fund legal aid to the degree necessary to achieve these purposes
Commentary 1: DIAGNOSIS/ISSUE IDENTIFICATION
These publicly funded professional legal services should enable the individual
to be aware of the relevant services, whether within the formal institutional
justice system or within the alternative dispute resolution systems.
These services should include information about both in-person assistance
and technological platforms for in-person or remote access. This diagnostic
service should be universal.
Commentary 2: REPRESENTATION AND ADVICE
For the enumerated categories of subject matter, individuals who qualify
based on a financial means test should have access to the services of a
lawyer or a non-lawyer legal service provider who is able to provide legal
advice and/or representation as may be appropriate.
Commentary 3: ELIGIBILITY
The public must have confidence in the legal system and delivery of legal
aid. The limits of funding will, of necessity, limit the scope of the services
that can be provided. Any financial means test or limit on the provision of
legal services must balance principles and pragmatism. The principles that
guide eligibility must not be governed solely by budgetary considerations.