Curbs on asylum seekers' legal aid

In future legal aid lawyers will receive a lower remuneration is they extend cases relating to asylum needlessly. Belgian justice minister Koen Geens has just agreed new arrangements with the professional organisation of Flemish lawyers.

Legal aid lawyers receive a remuneration for cases they take involving people who cannot afford a lawyer. The remuneration is based on a points system that is now being modified to combat abuse of the asylum system.

In future financial incentives will be made to promote mediation and deter repeatedly applying for asylum for the same person. From now on lawyers will only receive a 50 euro fee for every demarche that does not involve any new elements. The changes should result in savings for the justice department that spends 75 million euros a year on legal aid.

The asylum secretary Theo Francken: "Everybody who doesn't have the cash will still receive legal aid, but abuse and procedural battles are no longer encouraged financially."