The main functions of the Legal Aid Council are to:
- Administer a Legal Aid Scheme which provides legal aid for citizens. Currently criminal matters are entitled to Duty Counsel or Court Assignments. In its advisory capacity, it keeps under review the Provisions and Regulations of the Legal Aid Act and makes such recommendations to the Minister (of Justice) as the Council sees fit.
- Organize and establish Legal Aid Clinics, formulating the requisite standards, procedures and regulatory framework.
- Establish panels of Attorneys to execute legal aid duties in fulfilment of its mandate. As at July 30, 2019 approximately (754) Attorneys are enlisted, including almost (90) Senior Counsel and (4) Queen's Counsel. Our cadre of Attorneys provides Duty Counsel services and accepts Legal Aid court assignments.
- Receive and administer the financial resources of the Council, consistent with the provisions of the Financial Administration and Audit Act and the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act.
- Establish and maintain a tariff of fees to be paid by the Council to attorneys for services rendered. The scale of fees ranges from the allotment for Duty Counsel Services to a maximum fee for Senior Counsel for Capital Murder trials. Review of fees commences with the Council having consultation with the Jamaican Bar Association and the Advocates Association of Jamaica. The Minister has the final call on the recommendations emerging from the aforementioned consultations.
- Implement means test criteria and the prescribed process for contribution requests.
- Increase public awareness of the legal aid system in Jamaica.
- Administer an Outreach Programme to ensure that the public and stakeholders are fully apprised of its available services and the procedural processes required.