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Access to Justice Bill [H.L.]
 
 

 
 
A

B I L L

[AS AMENDED ON REPORT]

TO

Establish the Legal Services Commission, the Community Legal Service and the Criminal Defence Service; to amend the law of legal aid in Scotland; to make further provision about legal services; to make provision about appeals (including cases stated) and applications for habeas corpus, to enable the Lord Chancellor to appoint a vice-president of the Queen's Bench Division and to make provision about the reporting of court proceedings; to amend the law about magistrates and magistrates' courts; and to make provision about immunity from action and costs and indemnities for certain officials exercising judicial functions.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
 

  PART I
  THE LEGAL SERVICES COMMISSION
 
Principles
Principles applicable to Part I.     1. - (1) Every person exercising functions in connection with this Part must act, so far as possible, in a way which is compatible with the objectives set out in subsection (2).
 
      (2) The objectives are-
 
 
    (a) that persons have access to legal services and the machinery of justice which they would otherwise be unable to obtain on account of their means;
 
    (b) that such access is not to be impaired on account of disability (within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) or the place in England and Wales where any legal services are sought;
 
    (c) that legal services and facilities of high quality be available such that disputes may be resolved, and proceedings determined, expeditiously, fairly and with the parties placed on an equal footing.
 
The Commission
The Legal Services Commission.     2. - (1) There shall be a body known as the Legal Services Commission (in this Part referred to as "the Commission").
 
      (2) The Commission shall have the functions relating to-
 
 
    (a) the Community Legal Service, and
 
    (b) the Criminal Defence Service,
  which are conferred or imposed on it by the provisions of this Act or any other enactment.
 
      (3) The Commission shall consist of-
 
 
    (a) not fewer than seven members, and
 
    (b) not more than twelve members;
  but the Lord Chancellor may by order substitute for either or both of the numbers for the time being specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) such other number or numbers as he thinks appropriate.
 
      (4) The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor; and the Lord Chancellor shall appoint one of the members to chair the Commission.
 
      (5) In appointing persons to be members of the Commission the Lord Chancellor shall have regard to the desirability of securing that the Commission includes members who (between them) have experience in or knowledge of-
 
 
    (a) the provision of services which the Commission can fund as part of the Community Legal Service or Criminal Defence Service,
 
    (b) the work of the courts,
 
    (c) consumer affairs,
 
    (d) social conditions, and
 
    (e) management.
      (6) Schedule 1 (which makes further provision about the Commission) has effect.
 
Power to replace Commission with two bodies.     3. - (1) The Lord Chancellor may by order establish in place of the Commission two bodies-
 
 
    (a) one to have functions relating to the Community Legal Service, and
 
    (b) the other to have functions relating to the Criminal Defence Service.
      (2) The order may make any consequential, incidental, supplementary or transitional provisions, and any savings, which appear to the Lord Chancellor to be appropriate.
 
      (3) The order shall include amendments of-
 
 
    (a) any provisions of, or amended by, this Part which refer to the Commission, and
 
    (b) any other enactments which so refer,
  to replace references to the Commission with references to either or both of the bodies established by the order.
 
Powers of Commission.     4. - (1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, the Commission may do anything which it considers-
 
 
    (a) is necessary or appropriate for, or for facilitating, the discharge of its functions, or
 
    (b) is incidental or conducive to the discharge of its functions.
      (2) In particular, the Commission shall have power-
 
 
    (a) to enter into any contract,
 
    (b) to make grants (either without conditions or with conditions, including conditions as to repayment),
 
    (c) to make loans,
 
    (d) to invest money,
 
    (e) to promote or assist in the promotion of publicity relating to its functions,
 
    (f) to undertake any inquiry or investigation which it may consider appropriate in relation to the discharge of any of its functions, and
 
    (g) to give the Lord Chancellor any advice which it may consider appropriate in relation to matters concerning any of its functions.
      (3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not confer on the Commission power to borrow money.
 
      (4) The Commission may make such arrangements as it considers appropriate for the discharge of its functions, including the delegation of any of its functions.
 
      (5) The Lord Chancellor may by order require the Commission-
 
 
    (a) to delegate any function specified in the order or to delegate any function so specified to a person (or person of a description) so specified,
 
    (b) not to delegate any function so specified or not to delegate any function so specified to a person (or person of a description) so specified, or
 
    (c) to make arrangements such as are specified in the order in relation to the delegation of any function so specified.
 
The Community Legal Service
The Community Legal Service.     5. - (1) The Commission shall establish, maintain and develop a service known as the Community Legal Service for the purpose of promoting the availability to individuals of services of the descriptions specified in subsection (2) and, in particular, for securing (within the resources made available, and priorities set, in accordance with this Part) that individuals have access to services of a type and quality appropriate to meet their needs.
 
      (2) The descriptions of services referred to in subsection (1) are-
 
 
    (a) the provision of general information about the law and legal system and the availability of legal services,
 
    (b) the provision of help by the giving of advice as to how the law applies in particular circumstances,
 
    (c) the provision of help in preventing, or settling or otherwise resolving, disputes about legal rights and duties,
 
    (d) the provision of help in enforcing decisions by which such disputes are resolved, and
 
    (e) the provision of help in relation to legal proceedings not relating to disputes.
      (3) Services which the Commission can fund as part of the Criminal Defence Service do not fall within subsection (2).
 
      (4) The Commission shall fund services of the descriptions specified in subsection (2) as part of the Community Legal Service in accordance with the following sections.
 
      (5) The Commission shall also inform itself about the need for services of the descriptions specified in subsection (2) and the provision of such services and quality of the services provided and, in co-operation with such authorities and other bodies and persons as it considers appropriate-
 
 
    (a) plan what can be done towards meeting that need by the performance by the Commission of its functions, and
 
    (b) facilitate the planning by other authorities, bodies and persons of what can be done by them to meet that need by the use of any resources available to them,
  and the Commission shall notify the Lord Chancellor of what it has done under this subsection.
 
      (6) The Commission may set and monitor standards in relation to services of the descriptions specified in subsection (2).
 
      (7) In particular, the Commission may accredit, or authorise others to accredit, persons or bodies providing services of the descriptions specified in subsection (2); and any system of accreditation shall include provision for the monitoring of the services provided by accredited persons and bodies and for the withdrawal of accreditation from any providing services of unsatisfactory quality.
 
      (8) The Lord Chancellor may by order require the Commission to discharge the functions in subsections (5) to (7) in accordance with the order.
 
Funding of services.     6. - (1) The Commission shall establish and maintain a fund known as the Community Legal Service Fund from which it shall fund services as part of the Community Legal Service.
 
      (2) The Lord Chancellor-
 
 
    (a) shall pay to the Commission the sums which he determines are appropriate for the funding of services by the Commission as part of the Community Legal Service, and
 
    (b) may determine the manner in which and times at which the sums are to be paid to the Commission and may impose conditions on the payment of the sums.
      (3) In making any determination under subsection (2) the Lord Chancellor shall take into account (in addition to such other factors as he considers relevant) the need for services of the descriptions specified in subsection (2) of section 5 as notified to him by the Commission under subsection (5) of that section.
 
      (4) The Commission shall pay into the Community Legal Service Fund-
 
 
    (a) sums received from the Lord Chancellor under subsection (2), and
 
    (b) sums received by the Commission by virtue of regulations under section 11 or 12.
      (5) The Lord Chancellor may by direction impose requirements on the Commission as to the descriptions of services to be funded from any specified amount paid into the Community Legal Service Fund.
 
      (6) In funding services as part of the Community Legal Service the Commission shall aim to obtain the best possible value for money.
 
 
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