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Civil legal aid for under 2% of legal aid recipients

04 April 2019

Information released by Justice Minister Andrew Little shows that 1.9% of legal aid recipients in the year to 11 March 2019 were aided for civil matters. Legal aid lawyers also had an average of 39.9 open legal aid cases each month.

Mr Little has provided information on legal aid in response to a series of written parliamentary questions from National MP Mark Mitchell.

In the year to 11 March 2019 there were 74,464 recipients of legal aid, of whom three-quarters received legal aid for criminal proceedings.

Recipients of legal aid services by area of law, year to 11 March 2019
Law typeRecipients% Total
Civil1,4101.9%
Criminal56,23775.5%
Family16,67422.4%
Waitangi1430.2%
   
Total74,464 
Regions

The highest proportion of recipients were in the Auckland area, although the location of one-eighth was unknown

Recipients of legal aid services by region, year to 11 March 2019
RegionRecipients% Total
Auckland17,72023.8%
Bay of Plenty7,45410.0%
Canterbury6,7639.1%
Gisborne1,7312.3%
Hawke's Bay3,6814.9%
Manawatu-Whanganui3,6804.9%
Marlborough5550.7%
Nelson1,3921.9%
Northland3,3794.5%
Otago2,1852.9%
Southland1,2031.6%
Taranaki1,5712.1%
Waikato6,5748.8%
Wellington7,0809.5%
West Coast4840.6%
Unknown9,01212.1%
   
Total74,464 
Ethnicity

Mr Mitchell also requested information on legal aid recipients by ethnicity. The following information was provided:

Recipients of legal aid services by ethnicity, year to 11 March 2019
EthnicityRecipients% Total
African20.0%
Australian20.0%
Chinese1350.2%
Cook Island Maori8781.2%
Fijian80.0%
Indian3220.4%
Middle Eastern20.0%
Multiple ethnicity16032.2%
Niuean1290.2%
NZ European or Pakeha10,08713.5%
Māori13,76518.5%
Other2,2723.1%
Other Asian10.0%
Other European2520.3%
Other Pacific Islander20.0%
Samoan1,2841.7%
Somalian50.0%
South African10.0%
Tokelauan90.0%
Tongan6920.9%
Unknown43,01357.8%
   
Total74,464 
Open legal aid cases

Mr Little provided information in response to a number of questions from Mr Mitchell about the number and type of open civil legal aid cases at 11 March 2019. He revealed that at 11 March 2019, 2,015 solicitors were approved to undertake legal aid services.

For the purposes of the statistics, "open cases" were defined as cases that are open in the Legal Services Management System database. This indicates that no final invoice has been received from the legal aid provider, although the legal matter may have been disposed of by the court with a final invoice pending.

A question on the average number of open cases that an individual solicitor providing legal aid services had per month between 1 July 2018 and 11 March 2019 found that there was an average of 39.87 per solicitor each month.

Average open cases per month for individual legal aid solicitor, 1 July 2018 to 11 March 2019
RegionProvidersOpen casesAverage
Auckland44414,38532.4
Bay of Plenty1305,09639.1
Canterbury1595,73436.1
Gisborne301,31444.1
Hawke's Bay522,26243.8
Manawatu-Whanganui552,63848.1
Marlborough1237031.7
Nelson411,07826.1
Northland642,36337.2
Otago621,81939.5
Southland3091530.3
Taranaki351,12331.8
Tasman111.0
Waikato1244,43235.7
Wellington1816,84737.9
West Coast742458.9
Unknown86,357NA
    
Total1,43457,15739.9
Open cases by area of law

Information on open legal aid cases by area of law at 11 March 2019 showed a very high proportion (68%) of open civil legal aid cases were in Wellington. Open criminal and family legal aid cases tended to match the regional population size.

Open legal aid cases at 11 March 2019 by area of law and region
RegionCivilCriminalFamily
Auckland44711,2523,356
Bay of Plenty523,7231,790
Canterbury674,2902,239
Gisborne61,212248
Hawke's Bay171,727651
Manawatu-Whanganui41,8171,092
Marlborough1293131
Nelson35675453
Northland211,435927
Otago121,188789
Southland18625335
Taranaki14676638
Tasman000
Waikato582,8401,910
Wellington1,5723,6161,932
West Coast138199
Unknown16,8529
    
Total2,32642,60216,599

Last updated on the 16th September 2019