118. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of reducing the application fee for civil legal aid to €100 and to €50. [12572/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy may be aware, the Legal Aid Board seeks a minimum contribution of €30 for legal advice and €130 for legal aid (which includes the advice contribution of €30). The contribution payable by a person in receipt of legal aid or advice is set by the Minister for Justice and Equality by way of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2016. The minimum legal aid contribution was raised from €50 to €130 in September 2013 as a result of a 2013 Legal Aid Board review of the financial eligibility criteria. Since then the Board has made no further proposals to change the eligibility requirements.
No contribution is payable in respect of the defence of proceedings brought by the Child and Family Agency under the Child Care Act 1991. Practically all other cases require the applicant to pay a contribution unless it is fully or partially waived on hardship grounds.
Based on the number of legal aid certificates issued in 2015, the estimated cost of reducing the minimum contribution from €130 to €100 would be approximately €230,000 in a calendar year. The estimated cost of reducing the minimum contribution from €130 to €50 would be approximately €605,000 on the same basis. However, it should be noted that any such reduction would reduce the resources available to the Board and could have a consequential negative impact on service delivery and waiting times.