Funding grants to private lawyers, barristers and law firms increased by 25 per cent compared to the previous financial year, the commission says.
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania chairman Patrick Lunn said the $4.5 million paid to the private profession in the past financial year was granted to a total of 75 individual practitioners and law firms statewide.
The chairman was speaking in response to concerns raised by the Law Society of Tasmania to the commission about the under-granting of legal aid.
The society wrote to the commission with a number of concerns, including under-granting being common and how an assignments manager reached a decision to grant less than the tabled amount or the amount requested.
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In a response to the society, the commission said the decision to under-grant is made with reference to the information provided as to merit, stage of matter, current court practices, previous grants and funding priorities.
The commission also said decisions to under-grant could be reviewed.
Mr Lunn said the commission had a duty to ensure legal aid is provided in the most effective, efficient and economical manner, and having regard to the amount of money available for the performance of its functions.
"The Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania administers its funds having regard to its guidelines, funding priorities that are set by both state and Commonwealth funding agreements, current court practices and procedures, previous grants of aid and the stage of a matter," he said.
Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said federal government funding to legal aid had been eroded over time.
"We decry the under-funding of legal aid," Mr Hart said.
"As a matter of general principle we want to see our justice system properly resource, we want to see legal aid properly resourced."
Mr Hart said most people recognise the average person in the street can’t afford to get legal advice for an ongoing matter
"You can’t have one side of litigation receiving assistance and not the other," he said.
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