Effective from 1 July 2011, legal aid funding which had been available for treaty settlement negotiations will be transferred to the Office of Treaty Settlements for allocation as claimant funding.
Key changes introduced by the Legal Services Bill (introduced April 2011);
Legal aid funding will no longer be available for Treaty settlement activity, but it will be available for Waitangi Tribunal hearings. In addition to existing Crown claimant funding, claimant groups will have the flexibility to apply to Office for Treaty Settlement for two new areas of claimant funding:
– Up to $50,000 per claimant group is available as a contribution towards pre-mandate phase activities including Treaty settlement education and awareness, claimant communications, facilitation, legal or specialist advice and project management.
– Up to $150,000 is available per sub group to seek legal or specialist assistance for collective decision-making processes to advance the progression historical Treaty settlement negotiations.
The new areas of funding are available on 1 July 2011. Claimants receiving legal aid at the time of the change will continue to be able to receive legal aid funding until 1 January 2012 to provide sufficient time to transition to the new system.
The Office for Treaty Settlement will become the sole government funder of claimants in settlement negotiations after 1 January 2012.