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Legal Aid Act
Act 18/1996, 22/2001 (s. 4); S.I 262/2006.
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
- Short title and date of commencement.
LEGAL AID DIRECTORATE
- Establishment and functions of Legal Aid Directorate.
- Director, law officers and staff of Legal Aid Directorate.
- Minister may give policy directions to Director.
- Right of audience of law officers.
PROVISION OF LEGALAID
- Application for legal aid.
- Eligibility for legal aid.
- Assessment of means.
- Legal aid at instance of court or Attorney-General.
- Nature of legal aid.
- Reassignment of legal practitioner.
- Termination of legal aid.
- Legal Aid Fund.
- Contributions towards legal aid.
- Deductions from awards.
- Costs awarded to aided person.
- Costs not to be awarded against aided persons.
- Parties to submit to arbitration in certain cases.
- Aided person may dispense with legal aid.
- Legal aid not to affect legal practitioner and client relationship.
- Offences and penalties.
- Repeal of Cap. 9:13 and savings.
1 Short title and date of commencement
This Act may be cited as the Legal Aid Act [Chapter 7:16].
In this Act—
“aided person” means a person who is granted legal aid in terms of this Act;
“court” includes any court or tribunal before which a legal practitioner may represent a client;
“Director” means the Director of the Legal Aid Directorate referred to in section four;
“Fund” means the Legal Aid Fund established by section fourteen;
“law officer” means a person referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section four, whose duties consist wholly or mainly in providing an aided person with services normally provided by a legal practitioner to his client;
“Legal Aid Directorate” means the Legal Aid Directorate established by section three;
“Minister” means the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs or any other Minister to whom the President may, from time to time, assign the administration of this Act.
LEGAL AID DIRECTORATE
3 Establishment and functions of Legal Aid Directorate
- There is hereby established a Legal Aid Directorate consisting of the Director and law officers and other persons referred to in section four.
- Subject to this Act, the functions of the Legal Aid Directorate shall be—
- to provide legal aid to persons who are eligible for such aid in connection with any criminal, civil or other related matter;
- to do all things necessary to promote the provision of legal aid under this Act;
- to do any other thing that the Legal Aid Directorate may be required or permitted to do by or under this Act or any other enactment.
(3) The Minister may set up branches of the Legal Aid Directorate in such places as he may direct.
4 Director, law officers and staff of Legal Aid Directorate
(1) There shall be—
- a Director of the Legal Aid Directorate; and
- such law officers and other persons as are necessary for carrying out the functions of the Legal Aid
Directorate; whose offices shall be public offices and form part of the Public Service.
- A person shall not be qualified for appointment as Director under subsection (1) unless he is registered as a legal practitioner under the Legal Practitioners Act [Chapter 27:07].
- The functions of the Director may be exercised and performed by him in person or by any other person acting in accordance with his general or specific directions.
- Except as otherwise provided in this Act, in the exercise of his functions under this Act, the Director shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
5 Minister may give policy directions to Director
- Subject to subsection (2), the Minister may give the Director such directions of a general character relating to the directions to the policy he is to observe in the exercise of his functions as the Minister considers to be requisite in the national interest.
- Before giving the Director a direction in terms of subsection (1), the Minister shall inform him, in writing, of the proposed direction and the Director shall, within thirty days or such further period as the Minister may allow, submit to the Minister, in writing, his views on the proposal and the possible effect it may have on the Fund and the resources of the Directorate.
- The Director shall, with all due expedition, comply with any direction given to him in terms of subsection
6 Right of audience of law officers
(1) In any matter in which the provision of legal aid is granted in terms of this Act, a law officer shall—
- have the right of audience in any court;
- have the right to issue out summons or process or commence, carry on or defend any proceedings in any court in the name of an aided person;
- have the right to instruct or assist an aided person to issue out summons or process or to commence, carry on or defend any proceedings in any court: in the same manner and to the same extent as a registered legal practitioner, notwithstanding that the law officer is not so registered.
(2) This section shall not be construed as derogating from any other law relating to the right of audience of a person who is not registered as a legal practitioner.
PROVISION OF LEGALAID
7 Application for legal aid
- Any person may apply to the Director in the prescribed form for legal aid in terms of this Act.
- Subject to this Act, the Director shall, on receipt of an application in terms of subsection (1), consider the application and—
- grant the application and provide legal aid to the applicant, if he is satisfied that—
- the applicant is eligible in terms of section eight to receive legal aid; and
- the resources of the Directorate and the Legal Aid Fund will be sufficient to provide the legal aid required;
- if he is not satisfied that the applicant is eligible in terms of section eight to receive legal aid, reject his application; and shall notify the applicant forthwith of his decision.
(3) Before granting legal aid to an applicant in terms of subsection (2), the Director may require the applicant—
- to furnish such additional information as the Director considers necessary for the purposes of verifying any matter alleged in the application or for ascertaining the applicant’s means;
- to appear personally before the Director to answer any questions which the Director may put to him in connection with the application or in regard to the assessment of his means.
(4) The Director may at any time reconsider any decision made in terms of subsection (2) concerning the eligibility of any person to receive legal aid.
8 Eligibility for legal aid
Subject to this Act, a person shall be eligible for legal aid under this Act if, in the Director’s opinion—
- he has insufficient means to obtain the services of a legal practitioner on his own account; and
- he has reasonable grounds for initiating, carrying on, defending or being a party to the proceedings for which he applies for legal aid; and
- he is in need of or would benefit from the services provided in terms of this Act in respect of the proceedings for which he seeks legal aid.
9 Assessment of means
(1) In assessing the means of any person for the purposes of this Act, the Director shall take into account the income and property of the applicant, excluding—
- the dwelling house of the applicant; and
- necessary beds, bedding and clothing of the applicant or any member of his family; and
- necessary furniture of the applicant, other than beds, and household utensils in so far as they do not exceed in value such sum as may be prescribed; and
- tools and implements necessarily used by the applicant in his trade or occupation; and
- food and drink necessary to meet the needs of the applicant and members of his family for one month.
(2) The Director shall make due allowances for such other commitments a