Wellington, Dec 10 NZPA - Parliament has passed a law change designed to ease the financial pressure on victims of crime who receive legal aid to attend inquests and parole hearings.
Justice Minister Simon Power said the Legal Services Amendment Bill, passed today, would ensure they did not have to undergo financial eligibility tests or pay back legal aid grants when they needed to be represented by a lawyer.
"We have moved to ensure victims don't find themselves in situations like that in which Karl Kuchenbecker's partner found herself when she received a letter from the Legal Services Agency advising she might have to repay the costs of legal aid for his inquest," Mr Power said.
"It's unacceptable that victims of crime, in the rare cases where they need legal representation at coronial inquests and parole hearings, should have to deal with the stress of the possibility of repayments being required."
Mr Kuchenbecker, a father of two, was shot dead by Graeme Burton in January 2007 while Burton was on the run from police after breaching his parole conditions.