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Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

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Eligibility for criminal legal aid

This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

80.—(1) The Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (NI 8) is amended as follows.

(2) For Article 31 substitute—

Decisions as to eligibility for free legal aid

31.(1) If on a question of granting a person free legal aid under Article 28, 28A, 29 or 30 there is a doubt whether it is desirable in the interests of justice that he should have free legal aid, the doubt shall be resolved in favour of granting him free legal aid.

(2) For the purposes of Articles 28, 28A, 29 and 30 the question whether the means of a person are insufficient to enable him to obtain legal aid is to be determined in accordance with rules made for that purpose under Article 36.

(3) Those rules may make provision for, and in connection with, the determination of that question and may in particular—

(a)provide that the means of a person are to be taken to be insufficient to enable him to obtain legal aid if—

(i)his income does not exceed a prescribed sum; or

(ii)his disposable income does not exceed a prescribed sum;

(b)provide for the calculation for the purposes of sub-paragraph (a) of the income and disposable income of a person;

(c)provide for the manner in which, and person by whom, the means of a person are to be assessed for the purposes of making that determination;

(d)provide for the review of that determination in prescribed circumstances;

(e)make such other provision as appears to the Department of Justice necessary or expedient..

(3) In Article 33(1) (enquiries as to means of applicant for free legal aid) for the words from “the Department for Social Development to arrange” to the end substitute “enquiries to be made into the means of that person, and a report made to the court, in accordance with rules under Article 36.”.

(4) In Article 36 (rules as to legal aid in criminal cases) for paragraph (4) substitute—

(4) Except as provided by paragraph (5), rules under this Article are subject to negative resolution.

(5) The rules to which paragraph (6) applies shall not be made unless a draft of the rules has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.

(6) This paragraph applies to the first rules under this Article which—

(a)are made after the coming into operation of section 80 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011; and

(b)contain any provision made by virtue of Article 31, as substituted by that section..

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