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    April 17th, 2012

    ♫ We’re all following a strange melody 
    We’re all summoned by a tune 
    We’re following the piper 
    And we dance beneath the moon…♫ 

    Lyrics and music by: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, recorded by Abba.

    Dance beneath the moon

    While attending the Innovating Justice Forum: Towards  Basic  Justice  Care  for  Everyone in Den Haag, I spoke with Christiane Flaes, Netherlands Council for the Judiciary / Secretariat of ENCJ in The Netherlands; with Peter Van Der Biggelaar, the Director of the Dutch Legal Aid Service and with Alan Paterson of the University of Strathclyde.  They all mentioned a procedure that is operative in The Netherlands, in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  This is a Legal Aid Impact Review.

    What is remarkable, at least from an North American standpoint, is the requirement to measure the impact of proposed legislation on both the administration of justice, the judiciary as well as on existing legal aid programs.

    Rather than just passing legislation and leaving the courts, court administration and legal aid to pick up the additional costs, the legal aid impact review requires the costs of this proposed legislation, as least on the instruments involved in the administration of justice be determined.  For example, Northern Ireland states:

    The legal aid impact test –   assessing the implications of government proposals on courts and legal aid

    If you are working on government policy development within the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service or other government departments, you must consider whether there will be either a potential impact on the workload of the courts or a legal aid cost. This section includes guidance to help you determine this; provides a background to the legal aid scheme in Northern Ireland; and includes the contact details of our legal aid team who you should contact to obtain further guidance and help with costing the impact.

    This legal aid impact review ensures (assuming it is complied with each time new legislation is being proposed) that the courts, judges and legal aid will know the financial impact of any proposed legislation on their programs before the legislation becomes law.  This allows the legislation to be tweaked to lower its judicial, administrative and legal aid financial impact while still in proposed form and while it is still possible  to make adjustments.

    It is interesting how this simple idea is so powerful – you determine whether or not you can afford the cost of proposed legislation alongside its proposed utility. In other words, you can do a cost-benefit analysis.

    I also understand that in some jurisdictions, there should also be a financial transfer from a Ministry proposing new legislation to the Ministry of Justice to cover the additional marginal costs of new legislation.  You have to pay the piper for playing before you are summoned by a tune and have to dance beneath the moon..

    This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 at 6:35 am and is filed under Change Management, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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