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Courts Act 2003

Justices’ clerks and assistant clerks

Section 27: Justices’ clerks and assistant clerks

78.Section 27 provides for the Lord Chancellor to appoint and designate staff of the new courts agency to be justices’ clerks and assistants to justices’ clerks. A person cannot be designated as a justices’ clerk unless he or she meets the requirements of this section, which replicates section 43 of the JPA 1997. Section 27 empowers the Lord Chancellor to make regulations setting out the requirements that a person must fulfil if he or she is to be designated as an assistant to a justices’ clerk. Section 27 also allows the Lord Chancellor to enter into contracts for the provision of assistant clerks. The work of assistant clerks provided under such contracts would be limited to advising lay justices and would not extend to exercising the powers of a single justice, for which the assistant would require the specific authority of a justices’ clerk. This reflects current practice in the magistrates’ courts.

79.Section 27 places a duty on the Lord Chancellor to assign justices’ clerks to one or more local justice areas. It also empowers the Lord Chancellor to change a clerk’s assignment and move him or her to another area. However, before changing a clerk’s assignment, the Lord Chancellor must first consult the lay magistrates, via their bench chairman, assigned to the same local justice area as the clerk.

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