Legal Aid Center
On November 27, 1981, the Legal Aid Center was opened in Belize
City to serve the legal needs of the poor. The Center administers
legal aid and provides legal advice, assistance, referral
and representation for those who are eligible. The center
is geared towards low-income persons who meet eligibility
guidelines and handles a full range of case types and services.
General cases include family, land, civil and estate matters.
Murder, civil matters that exceed $20,000, and company and
other commercial matters are excluded from the center's jurisdiction.
type of service provided by the center depends largely on
the type of legal problem facing the individual client. Most
clients get immediate advice on their problem, including things
they could do in order to resolve the problem on their own.
Others are referred to an agency or service which can more
appropriately resolve their immediate crisis or long-term
Center is governed by a local Board of Directors. While initially
51% of this Board was comprised of Bar Association Members,
today the Bar Association makes up the entire Board. While
the Center is usually staffed by one full-time attorney, a
secretary, and an office manager, at present only an office
manager is on staff at the Center. The Bar Association has
plans to implement a mandatory roster system at the center
to ensure that an attorney is present at all times.
Legal Aid Center was initially funded by the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), the Caribbean
Justice Improvement Project (CJIP), the Canadian University
Services Overseas (CUSO), and the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA). Today, the Center is funded completely by the
Bar Association. There is also a $20 consultation fee, which
is discretionary and is based on the matter at hand and the
person's financial capability. This assists with the operational
Legal Aid Center is located in the Sir Albert Staine Building,
1 Treasury Lane, Belize City.
Court's Legal Aid
In capital cases, legal aid is provided by the Registrar of
the Supreme Court. In such cases, the Registrar appoints an
attorney to act on the accused's behalf. The maximum fee paid
to such attorney is $1,000 BZE, which covers a retainer fee
as well as a per diem allowance.