Legal Aid Act 1979

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1979 c. 26


Legal Aid Act 1979

1979 CHAPTER 26

An Act to amend certain enactments relating to legal aid and legal advice and assistance.

[4th April 1979]

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:—

I Provisions for England and Wales

Part I

Provisions for England and Wales

S-1 Extension of assistance to representation in proceedings.

1 Extension of assistance to representation in proceedings.

(1) In section 2 (scope of advice and assistance) of the Legal Aid Act 1974 (in this Act referred to as ‘the Act of 1974’)—

(a ) in subsection (1) for the words ‘the following provisions of this section’ there shall be substituted the words ‘subsection (2) and section 2A below’; and

(b ) subsections (3) and (4) and, in subsection (6), the words from ‘and’ onwards shall be omitted.

(2) After that section there shall be inserted the following section—

S-2A

2A ‘Representation in proceedings.

(1) In this Part of this Act 'assistance by way of representation' means any assistance given to a person by taking on his behalf any step in the institution or conduct of any proceedings before a court or tribunal, or of any proceedings in connection with a statutory inquiry, whether by representing him in those proceedings or by otherwise taking any step on his behalf (as distinct from assisting him in taking such a step on his own behalf).

(2) Without prejudice to section 2(2) above and subject to any prescribed exceptions, section 1 above does not apply to any assistance by way of representation unless it is approved by an appropriate authority in accordance with regulations made for the purposes of this section; and regulations so made may make different provision for different cases or classes of cases.

(3) Regulations may—

(a ) describe the proceedings in relation to which assistance by way of representation may be approved by reference to the court, tribunal or statutory inquiry, to the issues involved, to the capacity in which the person requiring the assistance is concerned, or in any other way;

(b ) specify, in relation to any proceedings so described, the assistance by way of representation which may be approved; and

(c ) preclude the giving of approval in the case of persons who would not be eligible for assistance if paragraph (a ) of section 1(1) above were omitted or for the weekly sum specified in that paragraph there were substituted such lower weekly sum as may be prescribed.

(4) Regulations may also make provision—

(a ) as to which committees, courts, tribunals or other persons or bodies of persons are to be appropriate authorities;

(b ) as to the procedure to be followed in applying for approval, the criteria for determining whether approval should be given and the conditions which should or may be imposed; and

(c ) as to the circumstances in which approval may be withdrawn and the effect of its withdrawal.

(5) Where a person receives any assistance by way of representation in any civil proceedings before a court or any proceedings before a tribunal, then, except in so far as regulations otherwise provide, his liability by virtue of an order for costs made against him with respect to the proceedings shall not exceed the amount (if any) which is a reasonable one for him to pay having regard to all the circumstances, including the means of all the parties and their conduct in connection with the dispute; and regulations shall make provision as to the court, tribunal or person by whom that amount is to be determined and the extent to which any determination of that amount is to be final.

(6) For the purposes of any inquiry under subsection (5) above as to the means of a person against whom an order for costs has been made, his dwelling, house and household furniture and the tools and implements of his trade shall be left out of account except in such cases and to such extent as may be prescribed, and except as so prescribed they shall, in all parts of the United Kingdom, be protected from seizure in execution to enforce the order.

(7) In this section 'statutory inquiry' has the meaning assigned to it by section 19(1) of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1971.’

(3) In section 7 of the Act of 1974 (scope of legal aid)—

(a ) in subsection (5) the words from ‘and may also’ onwards shall be omitted; and

(b ) after that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsection—

(5A) A person may be refused legal aid if, in the particular circumstances of the case, it appears—

(a ) unreasonable that he should receive it; or

(b ) more appropriate that he should receive assistance by way of representation;

and regulations may prescribe the criteria for determining any question arising under paragraph (b ) above.’

(4) In section 13 of the Act of 1974 (power to award costs out of legal aid fund) after subsection (6) there shall be inserted the following subsection—

(7) References in this section and section 14 below to legal aid include references to assistance by way of representation.’

(5) In section 25 of the Act of 1974 (interpretation of Part I) after the definitions of ‘advice’ and ‘assistance’ there shall be inserted the following definition—

‘'assistance by way of representation' has the meaning assigned to it by section 2A(1) above;’.

S-2 Financial limits on prospective cost of advice and assistance.

2 Financial limits on prospective cost of advice and assistance.

2. In section 3(2) of the Act of 1974 (financial limit on prospective cost of advice and assistance) for the words from ‘such larger sum’ onwards there shall be substituted the words ‘such other sum as may be prescribed; and regulations made for the purposes of this subsection may prescribe different sums for different cases or classes of cases’.

S-3 Contributions from persons receiving advice or assistance.

3 Contributions from persons receiving advice or assistance.

3. In section 4 of the Act of 1974 (contributions from persons receiving advice or assistance)—

a ) in subsection (2) for the words from ‘such amount’ onwards there shall be substituted the words ‘such amount as may be prescribed; and regulations made for the purposes of this subsection may prescribe different maximum payments for different amounts of disposable income and for different cases or classes of cases’
b ) subsection (3) shall be omitted; and
c ) in subsection (4) for the words ‘any sum specified in subsection (2) or (3)’ there shall be substituted the words ‘the sum specified in subsection (2)’.
S-4 Contributions from persons receiving legal aid.

4 Contributions from persons receiving legal aid.

(1) For section 9(1) of the Act of 1974 (contributions from persons receiving legal aid) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(1) Where a person receives legal aid in connection with any proceedings, his contribution to the legal aid fund in respect of those proceedings may include—

(a ) if his disposable income exceeds 1,500 a year, a contribution in respect of income not greater than one quarter of the excess or such other proportion of the excess or such amount as may be prescribed by regulations; and

(b ) if his disposal capital exceeds 1,200, a contribution in respect of capital not greater than the excess or such lesser amount as may be so prescribed;

and regulations made for the purposes of this subsection may make different provision for different amounts of disposable income or disposable capital and for different cases or classes of cases.’

(2) In section 20(8) of that Act (regulations not to come into force unless or until approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament) for ‘9(2)’ there shall be substituted ‘9(1) or (2)’.

S-5 Charge on property recovered for persons receiving legal aid.

5 Charge on property recovered for persons receiving legal aid.

(1) For section 9(9) of the Act of 1974 (charge on property recovered for persons receiving legal aid) there shall be substituted the following subsections—

(9) In this section references to the net liability of the legal aid fund on any person's account in relation to any proceedings are references to the aggregate amount of—

(a ) the sums paid or payable out of that fund on his account in respect of those proceedings to any solicitor or counsel; and

(b ) if he has received any advice or assistance in connection with those proceedings or any matter to which those proceedings relate, any sums paid or payable out of that fund in respect of that advice or assistance to any solicitor,

being sums not recouped to that fund by sums which are recovered by virtue of an order or agreement for costs made in his favour with respect to those proceedings, or by virtue of any right of his to be indemnified against expenses incurred by him in connection with those proceedings.

(10) Where the solicitor acting for a person is a solicitor employed by the Law Society in employment to which section 16 below applies, references in subsection (9) above to sums payable out of the legal aid fund include references to sums which would have been so payable if the solicitor had not been so employed.’

(2) Section 24(6) of that Act (which is superseded by this section) shall cease to have effect.

II Provisions for Scotland

Part II

Provisions for Scotland

S-6 Extension of assistance to representation in proceedings.

6 Extension of assistance to representation in proceedings.

(1) In section 2 (scope of advice and assistance) of the Legal Advice and Assistance Act 1972 (in this Act referred to as ‘the Act of 1972’)—

(a ) in subsection (1) for the words ‘the following provisions of this section’ there shall be...

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