LEGAL Aid funding has reached ``crisis point'' and could see people jailed unnecessarily, the Law Society of Tasmania has said.
The Tasmanian Legal Aid Commission yesterday released a new funding policy stating it would not fund legal representation in a range of family law matters, including trials unless the other party had private legal representation, or in some criminal matters.
Law Society vice-president Anthony Mihal said the changes would impact on the most vulnerable Tasmanians.
Mr Mihal said while legal aid would still be available for applications for breach of bail or breach of suspended sentence if they were heard concurrently with other, funded matters, those left unrepresented would be much more likely to be incarcerated.
``If we have a situation where people are actually jailed because of a lack of Legal Aid resources, it's fair to call it a funding crisis,'' he said.
Mr Mihal said the fault lay not with the commission but with state and federal governments that had underfunded it.
Legal Aid Commission director Norman Raeburn said the commission had overspent in July and August, and did not have any reserve funding to support an over-allocation of aid.
``It looks kind of vaguely horrifying, but in terms of the impact it's not as bad as it looks,'' Mr Raeburn said.
Attorney-General Brian Wightman said the commission's decision to cut services was ``disappointing'' as it had received $1.5 million extra state funding.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said the whole system of legal aid should be reviewed to see if it could be delivered more efficiently.
``No person who is facing jail should be unrepresented,'' Mr Barns said.
Women's Legal Centre managing solicitor Susan Fahey said rejected cases would be pushed to community legal centres, which were already over capacity.