House of Lords portcullis
House of Lords
Session 2002 - 03
Internet Publications
Other Bills before Parliament

Courts Bill [HL]


Courts Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Maintaining the court system

    1

 

A

Bill

[AS AMENDED ON REPORT]

To

Make provision about the courts and their procedure and practice; about

judges and magistrates; about fines and the enforcement processes of the

courts; about periodical payments of damages; and for connected purposes.                                                                            

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 1

Maintaining the court system

The general duty

 1     The general duty

     (1)    The Lord Chancellor is under a duty to ensure that there is an efficient and

5

effective system to support the carrying on of the business of—

           (a)           the Supreme Court,

           (b)           county courts, and

           (c)           magistrates’ courts,

            and that appropriate services are provided for those courts.

10

     (2)    In this Part—

           (a)            “the Supreme Court” includes the district probate registries, and

           (b)            “magistrates’ court” includes a committee of justices.

     (3)    In this Part references to the Lord Chancellor’s general duty in relation to the

courts are to his duty under this section.

15

     (4)    The Lord Chancellor must, within 18 months of the coming into force of this

section, and afterwards annually, prepare and lay before both Houses of

 
HL Bill 6353/2
 
 

Courts Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Maintaining the court system

    2

 

Parliament a report as to the way in which he has discharged his general duty

in relation to the courts.

Court staff and accommodation

 2     Court officers, staff and services

     (1)    The Lord Chancellor may appoint such officers and other staff as appear to him

5

appropriate for the purpose of discharging his general duty in relation to the

courts.

     (2)           The civil service pension arrangements for the time being in force apply (with

any necessary adaptations) to persons appointed under subsection (1) as they

apply to other persons employed in the civil service of the State.

10

     (3)    “The civil service pension arrangements” means—

           (a)           the principal civil service pension scheme (within the meaning of

section 2 of the Superannuation Act 1972 (c. 11)), and

           (b)           any other superannuation benefits for which provision is made under

or by virtue of section 1 of the 1972 Act for or in respect of persons in

15

employment in the civil service of the State.

     (4)           Subject to subsections (5) and (6), the Lord Chancellor may enter into such

contracts with other persons for the provision, by them or their sub-

contractors, of officers, staff or services as appear to him appropriate for the

purpose of discharging his general duty in relation to the courts.

20

     (5)           The Lord Chancellor may not enter into contracts for the provision of officers

and staff to discharge functions which involve making judicial decisions or

exercising any judicial discretion.

     (6)           The Lord Chancellor may not enter into contracts for the provision of officers

and staff to carry out the administrative work of the courts unless an order

25

made by the Lord Chancellor authorises him to do so.

     (7)           Before making an order under subsection (6) the Lord Chancellor must

consult—

           (a)           the Lord Chief Justice,

           (b)           the Master of the Rolls,

30

           (c)           the President of the Family Division, and

           (d)           the Vice-Chancellor,

            as to what effect (if any) the order might have on the proper and efficient

administration of justice.

     (8)           An order under subsection (6) may authorise the Lord Chancellor to enter into

35

contracts for the provision of officers or staff to discharge functions—

           (a)           wholly or to the extent specified in the order,

           (b)           generally or in cases or areas specified in the order, and

           (c)           unconditionally or subject to the fulfilment of conditions specified in

the order.

40

 

 

Courts Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Maintaining the court system

    3

 

 3     Provision of accommodation

     (1)    The Lord Chancellor shall provide, equip, maintain and manage such court-

houses, offices and other accommodation as appear to him appropriate for the

purpose of discharging his general duty in relation to the courts.

     (2)    The Lord Chancellor may enter into such arrangements for the provision,

5

equipment, maintenance or management of court-houses, offices or other

accommodation as appear to him appropriate for the purpose of discharging

his general duty in relation to the courts.

     (3)    The powers under—

           (a)           section 2 of the Commissioners of Works Act 1852 (c. 28) (acquisition by

10

agreement), and

           (b)           section 228(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c. 8)

(compulsory acquisition),

            to acquire land necessary for the public service are to be treated as including

power to acquire land for the purpose of its provision under arrangements

15

entered into under subsection (2).

     (4)    “Court-house” means any place where a court sits, including the precincts of

any building in which it sits.

Courts boards

 4     Establishment of courts boards

20

     (1)    England and Wales is to be divided into areas for each of which there is to be a

courts board.

     (2)    The areas are to be those specified by an order made by the Lord Chancellor.

     (3)    Each area established by an order under subsection (2) is to be known by such

name as is specified in the order (but subject to subsection (4)).

25

     (4)    The Lord Chancellor may make orders altering the areas.

     (5)    “Altering”, in relation to an area, includes (as well as changing its

boundaries)—

           (a)           combining it with one or more other areas,

           (b)           dividing it between two or more other areas, and

30

           (c)           changing its name.

     (6)    Before making an order under subsection (4), the Lord Chancellor must consult

any courts board affected by the proposed order.

     (7)    Schedule 1 contains provisions about the constitution and procedure of courts

boards.

35

 5     Functions of courts boards

     (1)    Each courts board is under a duty, in accordance with guidance under this

section—

           (a)           to scrutinise, review and make recommendations about the way in

which the Lord Chancellor is discharging his general duty in relation to

40

the courts with which the board is concerned, and

 

 

Courts Bill [HL]
Part 1 — Maintaining the court system

    4

 

           (b)           for the purposes mentioned in paragraph (a), to consider draft and final

business plans relating to those courts.

     (2)    In discharging his general duty in relation to the courts, the Lord Chancellor

must give due consideration to recommendations provided by the boards

under subsection (1).

5

     (3)    If the Lord Chancellor rejects a recommendation made by a courts board about

a final business plan under subsection (1) he shall give to the board written

reasons for so doing.

     (4)    The courts with which a courts board is concerned are—

           (a)           the Crown Court,

10

           (b)           county courts, and

           (c)           magistrates’ courts,

            in the board’s area.

     (5)    The Lord Chancellor must prepare and issue the boards with guidance about

how they should carry out their functions under subsection (1).

15

     (6)    The guidance may in particular contain provisions—

           (a)           about the procedures to be followed in connection with draft and final

business plans;

           (b)           conferring on the boards functions supplementing their functions

under subsection (1).

20

     (7)    The Lord Chancellor may from time to time issue the boards with revised

guidance and revoke previous guidance.

     (8)    Guidance issued under this section must be laid before both Houses of

Parliament.

Abolition of magistrates’ courts committees

25

 6     Abolition of magistrates’ courts committees, etc.

     (1)    The Greater London Magistrates’ Courts Authority (the magistrates’ courts

committee for Greater London) and all the magistrates’ courts committees for

areas of England and Wales outside Greater London are abolished.

     (2)    In consequence of that—

30

           (a)           England and Wales outside Greater London is no longer divided into

magistrates’ courts committee areas, and

           (b)           the office of justices’ chief executive is abolished.

     (3)    Schedule 2 (abolition of magistrates’ courts committees: transfers) has effect.

     (4)    The Justices of the Peace Act 1997 (c. 25) ceases to have effect.

35

 

 

Courts Bill [HL]
Part 2 — Justices of the peace

    5

 

Part 2

Justices of the peace

The commission of the peace and local justice areas

 7     The commission of the peace for England and Wales

There shall be a commission of the peace for England and Wales—

5

           (a)           issued under the Great Seal, and

           (b)           addressed generally, and not by name, to all such persons as may from

time to time hold office as justices of the peace for England and Wales.

 8     Local justice areas

     (1)    England and Wales is to be divided into areas to be known as local justice areas.

10

     (2)    The areas are to be those specified by an order made by the Lord Chancellor.

     (3)    Each local justice area established by order under subsection (2) is to be known

by such name as is specified in the order (but subject to subsection (4)).

     (4)    The Lord Chancellor may make orders altering local justice areas.

     (5)    “Altering”, in relation to a local justice area, includes (as well as changing its

15

boundaries)—

           (a)           combining it with one or more other local justice areas,

           (b)           dividing it between two or more other local justice areas, and

           (c)           changing its name.

     (6)    Before making an order under subsection (4) in relation to a local justice area

20

the Lord Chancellor must consult—

           (a)           the justices of the peace assigned to the local justice area,

           (b)           any court administration council whose area includes the local justice

area or a part of the local justice area, and

           (c)           unless the alteration consists only of a change of name, any local

25

authorities whose area includes the local justice area or a part of the

local justice area.

     (7)    “Local authority” means—

           (a)           any council of a county, a county borough, a London borough or a

council of a district, or

30

           (b)           a police authority established under section 3 of the Police Act 1996

(c. 16) or the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Lay justices

 9     Meaning of “lay justice”

In this Act “lay justice” means a justice of the peace who is not a District Judge

35

(Magistrates’ Courts).

 

 

 
previous section contents continue
 
House of Lords home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Revised 14 May 2003