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Criminal Defence Service (Advice and Assistance) Act 2001


3.The Act clarifies the extent of the Legal Service Commission’s duty to fund advice and assistance as part of the Criminal Defence Service under section 13 of the Access to Justice Act 1999.

4.Under the criminal legal aid system it was possible for advice and assistance to include, in certain circumstances, limited representation at a court or other hearing. (This was known as Advice by way of Representation - ABWOR). It was always the intention that such limited representation would continue to be available in the same circumstances when the Criminal Defence Service sections of the Access to Justice Act 1999 came into force on 2 April 2001, and replaced the legal aid scheme.

5.There was some doubt that the interaction of sections 13 and 14 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 as originally enacted allowed for this limited form of representation. There was also a doubt about whether section 13 allowed the funding of advice and assistance for people who are, may be or have been involved in quasi-criminal proceedings.

6.The Act amends section 13, and has retrospective effect. This was necessary as section 13 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 came into force on 2nd April 2001, before the Act could receive Royal Assent. The effect is that from the date of Royal Assent of the Act, the Access to Justice Act 1999 has effect as if enacted as amended by the Act. Secondary legislation made under the powers in s13 (1) may have retrospective effect to 2nd April 2001.

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