LEGAL AID ACT

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I
Preliminary

   1   Short title

   2   Interpretation

 

PART II
Legal Aid Council

   3   Establishment of Legal Aid Council

   4   Functions of the Council

   5   Ministerial directions

   6   Resources of the Council

   7   Borrowing Powers

   8   Loan guarantee

   9   Power to invest moneys

   10   Accounts and audit

   11   Estimates

   12   Annual report

   13   Appointment of Executive Director, and other officers

   14   Delegation of powers

 

PART III.
Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings

   15   Grant of legal aid certificates in criminal proceedings

 

PART IV
Legal Aid in Civil Proceedings

   16   Legal aid in civil matters

   17   Grant of legal aid certificate

 

PART V
General

   18   Application for legal aid

   19   Assessment of means

   20   Matters to be considered

   21   Revocation Legal aid certificate

   22   Cost in legal aid matters

   23   Assignment of matter

   24   For payable to attorneys-at-law

   25   Duty as to secrecy

   26   Recovery of debts

   27   Exemption from taxes and duties

   28   Regulations

   29   Repeal and savings

      SCHEDULE

 

THE LEGAL AID ACT

[Date of Commencement: 1st May, 2000*]

Acts
36 of 1997,
34 of 2005.

PART I
Preliminary (sections 1-2)

1   Short title

   This Act may be cited as the Legal Aid Act.

2   Interpretation

   (1) In this Act-

   "applicant" means any person-

   (a)   who is an application for legal aid pursuant to this Act or on whose behalf such an application is made; or

   (b)   who, being a person who appears to a certifying authority to be of unsound mind, is in the opinion of that authority in need of legal aid;

   "the Board" means the Board of Directors of the Council;

   "certifying authority" means-

   (a)   the Executive Director;

   (b)   the Director of a clinic;

   (c)   the Resident Magistrate before whom a person is charged with an offence or civil proceedings are initiated, as the case may be;

   (d)   a Judge of the Supreme Court or of the Court of Appeal or the Registrar of the Supreme Court or of the Court of Appeal;

   ''chairman" means the chairman of the Board and includes any person for the time being performing the functions of the chairman;

   “civil cause or matter” includes any matter which is not a criminal matter;*

   "clinic'' means-

   (a)   legal aid clinic established by the Council pursuant to this Act for the purpose of providing legal aid to persons of small or moderate means;

   (b)   the existing bodies known as the Kingston Legal Aid Clinic Limited and the Montego Bay Legal Aid Clinic Limited;

   (c)   any other body established for the purpose mentioned in paragraph (a) which, on application made to the Minister, is approved by him on the recommendation of the Council as a legal aid clinic;

   correctional institution" has the meaning assigned to that expression in the Corrections Act;

   "Council" means the Legal Aid Council established by section 3;

   ''excepted offence" means an offence prescribed under this Act, whether in specific terms or with reference, to a particular description, in relation to which legal aid shall not be granted under this Act;

   ''excepted matter or proceeding" means any matter or proceeding prescribed under this Act, whether in specific terms or with reference to a particular description, in respect of which legal aid shall not be granted;

   "Executive Director" means the Executive Director of Legal Aid appointed pursuant to section 13;

   "functions" includes powers and duties;

   "legal aid" means legal services by way of legal advice, assistance or representation provided pursuant to this Act;

   "legal aid certificate" means a certificate granted under this Act by a certifying authority, thereby enabling the applicant therefor to obtain legal aid;

   ''member" means a member of the Board;

   ''panal'' means the list of attorneys-at-law available to give professional service in accordance with the provisions of this Act;

   "person" does not include a body of persons, corporate or unincorporate;

   "probation and after-care officer" means a person appointed as such under the Corrections Act.

PART II
Legal Aid Council (sections 3-14)

3   Establishment of Legal Aid Council

   (1) There shall be established for the purposes of this Act, a body to be called the Legal Aid Council which shall a body corporate to which the provisions of section 28 the Interpretation Act shall apply.

   (2) The provisions of the Schedule shall have effect with respect to the constitution and operation of the Council, and otherwise in relation thereto.

4   Functions of the Council

   (1) The functions of the Council shall be-

   (a)   to provide and administer legal aid in accordance with the provisions of this Act;

   (b)   to organise the establishment and operation of clinics and, to such extent as it thinks necessary or desirable, to regulate the geographic areas of operation of each clinic;

   (c)   to keep under review the policies and laws, including this Act, for the time being in force relating to legal aid and to make such recommendations to the Minister relating thereto as it thinks fit;

   (d)   to receive and administer the resources of the Council;

   (e)   to do such other things as may be expedient or necessary for the proper performance of its functions under this Act;

   (2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the Council shall have power-

   (a)   to establish, in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed, procedures to determine the eligibility of applicants for legal aid and the contribution, if any, to be made by any applicant towards the cost of any service rendered to him pursuant to this Act;

   (b)   to allocate funds to, and to monitor the expenditure of funds at clinics and to withhold funds from any clinic operating contrary to the provisions of this Act or to the instructions of the Council;

   (c)   to establish panels in respect of each clinic in the prescribed manner and, subject to subsection (3), to add to or remove from that panel any attorney-at-law where the Council is satisfied that it is in the interest of justice so to do;

   (d)   to establish and maintain, after consultation with the Jamaican Bar Association and the Advocates' Association of Jamaica, and with the approval of the Minister, a tariff of fees to be paid by the Council to members of the panel for services rendered;

   (e)   to establish and monitor the implementation of standards and procedures for the operation of clinics;

   (f)   to undertake any enquiry or investigation which the Council thinks necessary or desirable in relation to the discharge of its functions;

   (g)   to take such steps as it thinks fit to ensure that legal aid is provided in an efficient and co-ordinated manner; and

   (h)   to promote or cause to be promoted programmes designed to enhance public awareness of the legal aid system in Jamaica.

   (3) Any person aggrieved by a decision not to add an attorney-at-law to a panel or to remove any attorney-at-law from a panel, may appeal to an appeals committee comprised of three persons appointed for the purpose by the Minister on the recommendations of the Jamaican Bar Association and the Advocates Association of Jamaica; and the decision of the appeals committee shall be final.

5   Ministerial directions as to policy

   The Minister may, after consultation with the chairman, give to the Council directions of a general character as to the policy to be followed by the Council in the performance of its functions, and the Council shall give effect thereto.

6   Resources of the Council

   The resources of the Council shall comprise-

   (a)   such sums as may from time to time be placed at the disposition of the Council by Parliament for the purposes of this Act;

   (b)   sums donated to the Council by any person or organisation;

   (c)   contributions to be made by applicants for legal aid;

   (d)   costs awarded to any applicant, or any part of such costs;

   (e)   such other sums as may lawfully be paid to the Council.

7   Borrowing powers

   The Council may, within such limits as the Minister responsible for finance may fix from time to time, borrow money for the purpose of enabling it to perform its functions under this Act.

8   Loan Guarantee

   (1) With the approval of the House of Representatives, the Minister responsible for finance may guarantee, in such manner and on such conditions as he may think fit, the repayment of the principal and the payment of interest on any authorised borrowings of the Council.

   (2) Notwithstanding anything to the, contrary, where any loan is, pursuant to subsection (1), guaranteed by the Minister responsible for finance, the repayment of the principal moneys and interest represented by the loan so guaranteed shall, during the continuance of such guarantee, be a first charge upon such revenue and assets of the Council as shall be specified by the Minister.

   (3) Where the Minister responsible for finance is satisfied that there has been default in the repayment of any principal moneys or in the payment of interest guaranteed under the provisions of this section, he shall direct the repayment or, as the case may be, the payment, out of the Consolidated Fund and assets of Jamaica, of the amount in respect of which there has been such default.

   (4) The Council shall make to the Accountant-General, at such times and in such manner as the Minister responsible for finance may direct, payments of such amounts as may be so directed in or towards repayment of any suds issued in fulfillment of any guarantee under this section, and payments of interest on what is outstanding for the time being in respect of any sums so issued at such rate as that Minister may direct, and different rates of interest may be directed as respects different sums and as respects interest for different periods.

9   Power to invest moneys

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   All moneys of the Council not immediately required to be expended to meet any obligations or to discharge any functions of the Council may be invested in such securities as may be approved either generally or specifically by the Minister and the Council may, with the approval of the Minister, sell all or any of such securities.

10   Accounts and audit

   (1) The Council shall keep proper accounts and other records in relation to the business of the Council and shall prepare annually a statement of accounts in a form satisfactory to the Minister, being a form which shall conform with the best commercial standards.

   (2) The accounts of the Council shall be audited annually by an auditor appointed annually for the purpose by the Council and approved by the Minister.

   (3) Within three months after the end of each financial year or within such further time as may be allowed by the Minister, the Council shall submit the statement of its accounts referred to in subsection (1) to the Minister, together with a copy of any report made by the auditor on that statement and on the accounts of the Council.

   (4) The Auditor-General shall be entitled at all reasonable times to examine the accounts and other records of the Council.

11   Estimates

   The Council shall on or before the 31st day of October in each year, submit to the Minister for approval, an estimate of the operational expenses and income in respect of the financial year next following.

12   Annual report

   (1) The Council shall, within three months after the expiration of each financial year or within such further time as may be allowed by the Minister, cause to be made and transmitted to the Minister, a report dealing generally with the activities of the Council during that financial year.

   (2) The Minister shall cause a copy of the report together with the annual statement of accounts and the auditor's report thereon to be tabled in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

13   Appointment of Executive Director and other officers

   (1) The Council shall appoint and employ at such remuneration and on such terms and conditions as it think fit, an Executive Director of Legal Aid, a secretary, a land such other officers, agents and employees as it thinks necessary for the proper performance of its functions:

   Provided that-

   (a)   no salary exceeding the prescribed rate shall be assigned to any post without the prior approval of the Minister; and

   (b)   no appointment shall be made to any post to which a salary in excess of the prescribed rate is assigned, without the prior approval of the Minister.

   (2) The Executive Director shall be responsible to the Council for the day-to-day administration of the business of the Council; and where the Executive Director is absent or unable to act and no acting appointment has been made by the Council, the Council may authorise an officer in its service to perform temporarily the functions of the Executive Director.

   (3) The Governor-General may, subject to such conditions as he may impose, approve of the appointment of any public officer in the service of the Government to any office with the Council, and any public officer so appointed shall, in relation to pension, gratuity or other allowance, and in relation to other rights as a public officer, be treated as continuing in the service of the Government.

   (4) The Council may, with the approval of the Minister, enter into arrangements respecting schemes whether by way of insurance policies or otherwise and make rules in respect of medical benefits, pensions, gratuities and other retiring or disability benefits or death benefits relating to employees of the Council and such arrangements or rules may include provisions for the grant of benefits to the dependants and the legal personal representatives of such employees.

   (5) In subsection (1) the prescribed rate means a rate of three hundred thousand dollars per annum or such higher rate as the Minister may, by order, prescribe.

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