October 11, 2017 6:28 pm

Alberta Justice officials say people have wrong idea about legal-aid fee

A police officer arrives at the provincial court building in Lethbridge, Alta., on Sept. 23, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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Alberta Justice officials say an up-front fee from $25 to $150 for legal-aid clients has been the victim of misperceptions.

READ MORE: Inadequate funding for legal aid puts fair trials in jeopardy, experts warn 

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David Peace, who is in charge of justice services, says the fee was brought in with safeguards to ensure that those who could not afford to pay would still get access to a lawyer.

READ MORE: Legal Aid Alberta welcomes funding relief but warns it’s only a stopgap 

Peace made the comments to a legislature committee examining the fee which was announced last month.

Concerns that people with little to no money would be denied legal help prompted Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley and Legal Aid Alberta to put the plan on hold.

READ MORE: ‘Inadequate funding’ leads to 2nd resignation at Legal Aid Alberta in 3 months 

Peace said the plan was to have managers examine every case on its merits to make sure only clients who could afford the up-front fee would pay.

Some legal-aid fees are already collected at the back end.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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