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Holland spends most on legal aid and courts

3 November 2009

Public spending on legal aid and the courts in EU countries is highest in Holland, a Ministry of Justice report has revealed.

The report, by the Centre for Criminal Justice Economics and Psychology at the University of York, showed that the high cost of legal aid in England and Wales compared to other EU countries was offset by lower spending on the courts.

Legal aid spending per capita every year in England was estimated at almost 58 euros per head, compared with 23 in Holland.

However, when public prosecution costs and funding for the courts was added into the equation, the result produced a total per capita spend of 80 euros in England and Wales, compared to 90 in the Netherlands.

Even France, which spends less than ten per cent of our total on legal aid and where eligibility levels are much lower, spends 51 euros per head on legal aid and the courts every year when the full costs of the system are included.

In a separate development, the National Audit Office has qualified the accounts of the LSC because of overpayments to solicitors estimated at almost £25m.

A spokesman for the NAO said £6.4m was paid to solicitors where there was no evidence that clients were eligible and the remaining amount was a result of solicitors over-claiming.

However, Richard Miller, legal aid manager at the Law Society, said: “Our experience is that people without knowledge of the system who try to audit files do not fully understand the work done by lawyers or the system under which they operate.”

Categorised in:

Legal Aid Discrimination Courts & Judiciary