Government cuts in free legal aid:
Tuesday 22 May 2018
A mockery of people who are poor
In revised state budget, the grant for free legal aid is cut by NOK 87 million. Petter Eide (SV) believes the government is in charge of a winding up of the scheme.
I think this is very dramatic. The whole idea of the scheme is that people should have equal access to justice. It should not be that they have better access to justice than others, “says Eide to Dagbladet.
The essence of the case is that the income limit that determines who qualifies for free legal aid has remained quiet for almost ten years. At the same time, wages and salaries are adjusted after inflation and increased living costs. This means that more and more qualified people for free legal aid now come above the income limit.
It is a pillar in the rule of law that is being eroded. We have previously seen that support for organizations that run free legal aid is cut, and now it is also cut in what goes for legal aid, “says Eide.
One of the groups who, in practice, loses the right to free legal aid, are young people in disability who receive the minimum pension. The basic amount is currently NOK 247,000, only NOK thousand more than the income limit for free legal aid of NOK 246,000.
It’s a mockery of people who are poor. And it’s closing the justice system for a group that has little money, as the whole scheme is meant to avoid. Young people with a benefit of 247,000 a year will now have to pay for the lawyer themselves, which they absolutely can not afford, he says.
Eide, however, warns against the case this year.
We will do our best to change this. The income ceiling must be raised. We will focus on both in the revised budget and in the state budget for the autumn. It must be a minimum requirement that people on disability insurance can get free legal aid, “concludes Eide