Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Thursday, 2 December 2010

Justice Committee

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Committee members questioned the costs incurred by the justice department in settling claims made by retired and serving police officers, on 2 December 2010.

Many officers have claimed compensation for loss of hearing through the use of firearms during the troubles.

Speaking during a briefing on the December monitoring round, justice department official Anthony Harbinson said the department had adopted the most cost effective strategy for dealing with claims.

This was challenged by the UUP's Sir Reg Empey and committee chair Lord Morrow of the DUP.

"There must be a better way of doing it ," Lord Morrow commented.

The committee has embarked on a lengthy consideration of the Justice Bill.

There were a series of briefings from interested parties.

Adrian Colton, who chairs the Bar Council, challenged the proposal to introduce a fixed means test for legal aid.

Mr Colton said the council was concerned about access to justice.

He said he understood that in England and Wales someone earning more than around £20,000 or £22,000 would not be eligible for legal aid.

This would mean someone like a teacher charged with a serious criminal offence could not get legal aid, he added.

Patricia Lyness of Women's Aid called for automatic access to legal aid for all women who complain of domestic violence.

Following a briefing session with the Law Society, the committee considered the parts of the Justice Bill concerning behaviour at sports events.

Justice committee membership

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