Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Seventeenth Report


Memorandum by the Northern Ireland Court Service


1. The Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (Costs) (Amendment No. 2) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2001 ("the 2001 Rules") are made by the Lord Chancellor, in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 36(3) of the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 ("the 1981 Order"), now vested in the Lord Chancellor by the Transfer of Functions (Legal Aid and Maintenance Orders) (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, after consultation with the Lord Chief Justice, the Attorney General and with the approval of Treasury.

2. The 2001 Rules require to be laid before Parliament in accordance with the provisions of Article 36(4) of the 1981 Order and are subject to the negative resolution procedure.

3. The 2001 Rules amend the Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 1992 ("the 1992 Rules").

4. The 1992 Rules, which came into operation in January 1993, introduced a statutory scheme for remunerating lawyers acting for legally aided defendants in criminal cases in Northern Ireland. In addition to regulating the receipt, assessment and processing of lawyers' claims, the 1992 Rules:

(a) prescribe standard fees for cases meeting certain criteria, and

(b) prescribe rates of remuneration to be applied to various elements of work in non-standard fee cases.

5. The 1992 Rules also provide that the Appropriate Authority (a panel established by the 1992 Rules to determine appropriate fees in individual cases) will have the discretion, in relation to work done after a certain date ("the relevant date"), to allow such fees as appear to them to be fair remuneration for such work, having regard to the rates prescribed for non-standard fee cases; that is, they will not be obliged to apply either the standard or non-standard fee rates.

6. The 2001 Rules amend Rules 6(3) and 9(5) of the 1992 Rules so as to advance the relevant date from 31 December 2001 to 31 December 2002. If the date were not so altered the Appropriate Authority would have the discretion set out above and therefore would not be obliged to apply the prescribed fee rates: this would be contrary to Government policy at this time.

7. For this reason the 2001 Rules are to come into operation on 30 December 2001.

8. Having completed the necessary consultation process draft Rules were submitted to the Lord Chancellor on 29 November with a view to them coming into operation on 30 December 2001. The Lord Chancellor signed these Rules on Monday 3 December. However, due to an administrative error there was insufficient time to secure the required signatures of two Lords Commissioners of HM Treasury so as to comply with the 21 day rule. This is particularly unfortunate as the 21 day rule was unavoidably breached because of the Election purdah when these rules were last amended in June 2001, for which we also apologise.

9. Any further difficulties caused for the Joint Committee are very much regretted.

12 December 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 6 February 2002