Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1949 c. 51


Legal Aid and Advice Act , 1949

(12, 13 & 14 Geo. 6) CHAPTER 51

An Act to make legal aid and advice in England and Wales, and in the case of members of the forces legal advice elsewhere, more readily available for persons of small or moderate means, to enable the cost of legal aid or advice for such persons to be defrayed wholly or partly out of moneys provided by Parliament, and for purposes connected therewith.

[30th July 1949]

Be it enacted by the King'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 New Arrangements for Legal Aid and Legal Advice

Part I

New Arrangements for Legal Aid and Legal Advice

Legal aid

Legal aid

S-1 Scope and general conditions of legal aid in connection with proceedings.

1 Scope and general conditions of legal aid in connection with proceedings.

(1) This and the three next following sections provide for, and (save as hereinafter mentioned) relate only to, legal aid in connection with proceedings before courts and tribunals in England and Wales, not being proceedings in which free legal aid may be given under the enactments amended by Part II of this Act.

(2) Unless and until regulations otherwise provide, the proceedings in connection with which legal aid may be given are any proceedings of a description mentioned in Part I of the First Schedule to this Act, except proceedings mentioned in Part II of that Schedule.

(3) Subject to the provisions of this section, the proceedings in connection with which legal aid may be given may be varied by regulations, and the regulations may describe the proceedings to be included or excluded by reference to the court or tribunal, to the issues involved, to the capacity in which the person requiring legal aid is concerned, or otherwise.

(4) Regulations made for the purpose of the last foregoing subsection—

(a ) shall not provide for giving legal aid in connection with proceedings before any court or tribunal before which persons have no right and are not normally allowed to be heard by counsel or a solicitor; and

(b ) shall not come into force unless or until approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) Legal aid shall consist of representation, on the terms provided for by this Part of this Act, by a solicitor and so far as necessary by counsel (including all such assistance as is usually given by solicitor or counsel in the steps preliminary or incidental to any proceedings or in arriving at or giving effect to a compromise to avoid or bring to an end any proceedings).

(6) A person shall not be given legal aid in connection with any proceedings unless he shows that he has reasonable grounds for taking, defending or being a party thereto, and may also be refused legal aid if it appears unreasonable that he should receive it in the particular circumstances of the case.

(7) Save as expressly provided by this Part of this Act or by regulations made thereunder,—

(a ) the fact that the services of counsel or a solicitor are given by way of legal aid shall not affect the relationship between or rights of counsel, solicitor and client or any privilege arising out of such relationship; and

(b ) the rights conferred by this Part of this Act on a person receiving legal aid shall not affect the rights or liabilities of other parties to the proceedings or the principles on which the discretion of any court or tribunal is normally exercised.

S-2 Financial conditions of legal aid.

2 Financial conditions of legal aid.

(1) Subject to this Part of this Act, legal aid shall be available for any person whose disposable income does not exceed four hundred and twenty pounds a year:

Provided that a person may be refused legal aid if he has a disposable capital of more than five hundred pounds and it appears that he can afford to proceed without legal aid.

(2) Where a person receives legal aid in connection with any proceedings—

(a ) the expenses incurred in connection with the proceedings, so far as they would ordinarily be paid in the first instance by or on behalf of the solicitor acting for him, shall be so paid except in the case of those paid direct from the legal aid fund as provided by this Part of this Act;

(b ) his solicitor and counsel shall not take any payment in respect of the legal aid except such payment as is directed by this Part of this Act to be made out of the legal aid fund;

(c ) he may be required to make a contribution to the legal aid fund in respect of the sums payable thereout on his account;

(d ) any sums recovered by virtue of an order or agreement for costs made in his favour with respect to the proceedings shall be paid to the legal aid fund;

(e ) 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.

(3) Regulations shall make provision as to the court, tribunal or person by whom the amount referred to in paragraph (e ) of the last foregoing subsection is to be determined and the extent to which any determination thereof is to be final.

(4) For the purpose of any inquiry under this section 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 aforesaid they shall, in all parts of the United Kingdom, be protected from seizure in execution to enforce the order.

S-3 Contributions from assisted person and charge on property recovered.

3 Contributions from assisted person and charge on property recovered.

(1) A person's contribution to the legal aid fund in respect of any proceedings may include—

(a ) a contribution in respect of income not greater than half the amount (if any) by which his disposable income exceeds one hundred and fifty-six pounds a year; and

(b ) a contribution in respect of capital not greater than the amount (if any) by which his disposable capital exceeds seventy-five pounds.

(2) A person may be required to make any contribution to the legal aid fund in one sum or by instalments.

(3) If the total contribution to the legal aid fund made by a person in respect of any proceedings is more than the net liability of that fund on his account, the excess shall be repaid to him.

(4) Except so far as regulations otherwise provide, any sums remaining unpaid on account of a person's contribution to the legal aid fund in respect of any proceedings and, if the total contribution is less than the net liability of that fund on his account, a sum equal to the deficiency shall be a first charge for the benefit of the legal aid fund on any property (wherever situate) which is recovered or preserved for him in the proceedings.

(5) The reference in the last foregoing subsection to property recovered or preserved for any person shall include his rights under any compromise arrived at to avoid or bring to an end the proceedings and any sums recovered by virtue of an order for costs made in his favour in the proceedings (not being sums payable into the legal aid fund under the last foregoing section).

(6) The charge created by subsection (4) of this section on any damages or costs shall not prevent a court allowing them to be set off against other damages or costs in any case where a solicitor's lien for costs would not prevent it.

(7) References in this section to the net liability of the legal aid fund on any person's account in relation to any proceedings refer to the aggregate amount of the sums paid or payable out of that fund on his account in respect of those proceedings to any solicitor or counsel and 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.

S-4 Assessment of disposable capital and income and of maximum contribution.

4 Assessment of disposable capital and income and of maximum contribution.

(1) References in this Act to a person's disposable income or disposable capital shall be taken as referring to the rate of his income or amount of his capital after making—

(a ) such deductions as may be prescribed in respect of the maintenance of dependants, interest on loans, income tax, rates, rent and other matters for which the person in question must or reasonably may provide; and

(b ) such further allowances as may be prescribed to take account of the nature of his resources.

(2) Regulations may make provision as to the manner in which the rate of a person's income and the amount of his capital are to be computed for the purposes of the foregoing subsection, and in particular for determining whether any resources are to be treated as income or capital and for taking into account fluctuations of income.

(3) The regulations shall include provision for securing that the resources of a person seeking or receiving legal aid shall be treated as not including the subject matter of the dispute.

(4) Except in so far as the regulations otherwise provide, any resources of a person's wife or husband shall be treated for the purposes of this section as that person's resources, and the regulations may also make provision, in relation to infants and other special cases, for taking into account the resources of other persons.

(5) The regulations shall also include provision for securing that in computing resources there shall be observed the rules set out in paragraphs 1, 4, 5 and (so far as relevant) 6...

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