B.C. Facing Increased Costs of Large Trials and Major Criminal Cases
B.C. taxpayers will feel the weight of increased costs for lengthy, complex trials. In the fiscal 2012/13, the government spent close to $19 million on major cases. The amount is $7.2 million more than what was budgeted and required dipping into contingency funds in order to pay for lawyers, prosecution, courts and corrections costs.
Legal aid lawyers billed close to $9 million for criminal cases, which is up from only $2.6 million in 2010. This trend does not appear to be slowing down as 2014 appears to be getting worst with lthe large amounts of cases.
“That’s why the ministry and Legal Services Society are working together on strategies to manage these costs,” said Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton. “As outlined in B.C.’s white paper on justice reform, our government wants to take a systemic and integrated approach to addressing challenges posed by large and major criminal cases.”
Large cases at the turn of the century, such as the Air India Terrorism and Robert Pickton serial-murder prosecutions, indicated that such trials formed unique challenges that were extremely costly and anticipated to become more frequent.
David Griffiths, a large criminal case manager with legal aid, explained that legal aid is managing 300 large cases at any one time.
Legal aid pays only the first $175,000 of a lawyer’s bill in large cases out of its annual budget of close to $83 million. On major criminal cases in 2013, legal aid lawyers billed more than three times as much compared to 2010.
The reasons behind the increased costs is indicated to be the defences and remedies provided by constitutional changes, Supreme Court Rulings on evidence and disclosure, and law-making that has double the size of the criminal code in 30 years.
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Derek May, HUB International PROFESSIONAL
HUB International PROFESSIONAL LAWYERS’ specialists are based in Vancouver and are focused on delivering the best coverage, best value and best service, with winning solutions for small, medium and large firms.
 Ian, Mulgrew. "B.C. Struggling to contain costs of large trials." The Vancouver Sun . Vancouver Sun, 23 December 2013. Web. 9 Jan 2014. <http://www.vancouversun.com/news/struggling contain costs large trials/9316668/story.html>.