Legal aid aimed to low-income earners, not just for divorce cases

BANGI, 21 June 2017: 

Services provided by the Legal Aid Department (LAD) are meant for the target groups such as recipients of 1Malaysia People’s Aid and e-Kasih, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

In this regard, she said there is a need for the department to scrutinise applications from the public – to ensure only those who qualified would be accorded the services.

“Legal aid is now given according to income. For me it should not be provided to people who could afford but don’t want to use the services of private lawyers because of the higher fees.”

Azalina said the proposed legal counsel for target groups is one of the government’s efforts to transform the legal aid services scheme under the department – which was set up to provide legal counsel and legal aid to eligible persons as stipulated under the Legal Aid Act 1971 [Act 26] .

She said those who eligible would receive legal counsel as well as representation in court for free or at a minimum rate set based on the means test on the applicant.

LAD’s case registration statistics in the first quarter of this year showed that 50-70% were syariah cases, mostly involving divorce.

Azalina said the perception that LAD only dealt with divorce cases and family affairs must also be corrected.

“LAD must go beyond civil or criminal. It can represent many other types of cases such as employment and so on.”

LAD is now gathering views from participants of various backgrounds for the formulation of legal aid policies that would be used broadly, consistent with current needs. Also underlined is the proposal that legal aid be accorded only to Malaysians, she added.

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