Granting of Legal Aid at State Expense to Indigent Litigants

From the outset, the Ministry of Justice wants to make it clear that State Funded Aid has not been suspended as reported in the local media recently.

The Directorate: Legal Aid still receive applications, and these are being processed as before. We wish to inform the nation that the Ministry of Justice has, over the past four years, decided to appoint in-house legal counsel in terms of the Legal Aid Act, 1990 Act No 29 of 1990 and endeavor to forth-with capacitate this team to represent all eligible legal aid clients. This is a long-term, financially sustainable model that has proven to work in other similar jurisdictions.
Outsourcing of legal aid instructions to private legal practitioners will henceforth only take place under absolute compelling circumstances and if funds permit. For a period of four years, the State has spent a whopping N$ 127, 523 367 on legal costs in payment to private legal practitioners instructed by the directorate: Legal Aid

In the event of any outsourcing, there shall be strict assessment of need and compliance with the prescribed tariff for legal aid, as provided for in terms of fees payable to legal practitioners in the Legal Aid Regulations: Legal Aid Act, 1990.
Owing to the complexity of most civil cases, as well as the small number of in-house lawyers attending to civil cases, the Directorate has indeed not yet been able to take all cases received. The majority of the civil cases have always been outsourced to private legal practitioners.
Plans are underway to shift the focus from the criminal court to the civil court, where cases have a heavy social and economic impact. We place on record that the cases that have already been granted legal aid and are on-going will continue to be accorded legal representation, until they are finalized. These are where private legal practitioners al-ready hold legal aid instructions.

We appeal to legal aid clients not to terminate the services of lawyers instructed for them by the Directorate of Legal Aid.
If such client is not satisfied, they should first inform us, so that we investigate the cause of the discontent. In genuine cases, such clients will have other lawyers re-assigned to their cases.
Inquiries are welcome to the Directorate of Legal Aid’s email address at info.legalaid @gov.na
Ministry of Finance

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