Andrew Little |
Monday, June 17, 2013 – 08:48
Ministry of Justice officials are contacting past recipients of legal aid insisting they increase the amount they are repaying to avoid interest – even though legislation allowing interest to be charged is not yet law, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.
“The Legal Assistance Amendment Bill is still going through Parliament, having had part of its committee stage this week. It provides for interest to be charged on outstanding balances of legal aid.
“However, I have been contacted by someone who has been told by the Ministry of Justice that they should increase their legal aid repayments now if they want to avoid incurring interest from later this year.
“The law hasn’t even passed, yet the Ministry is already haranguing people. If these are the tactics being used now, I can only imagine it getting worse when the law takes effect.
“Of all the ministries we expect to observe the law to the absolute letter it is the Ministry of Justice, but on this issue it is overstepping the mark.
“Judith Collins should instruct the Ministry to stop immediately and respect the proper processes of Parliament.”