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Courts Act 2003

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Chairman and deputy chairmen and the bench

17Chairman and deputy chairmen: selection

(1)For each local justice area there is to be—

(a)a chairman of the lay justices assigned to the area, and

(b)one or more deputy chairmen of those lay justices,

chosen by them from among their number.

(2)Rules may make provision—

(a)subject to subsection (3), as to the term of office of the chairman and deputy chairmen, and

(b)as to the number of deputy chairmen to be elected for any area.

(3)The Lord Chancellor, or a person acting on his behalf, may authorise a lay justice to continue to hold office as chairman or deputy chairman for the purposes of specified proceedings which are, or are expected to be, in progress on the day on which the lay justice’s office would otherwise end.

(4)Any contested election for choosing the chairman or a deputy chairman is to be held by secret ballot.

(5)Rules may make provision for the purposes of this section and may in particular make provision—

(a)about the procedure for nominating candidates for election as a chairman or a deputy chairman;

(b)about the procedure at such an election.

18Rights to preside and size of bench

(1)If the chairman for a local justice area is present at a sitting or other meeting of lay justices assigned to or acting in the area, he must preside.

(2)If, in the absence of the chairman, one or more of the deputy chairmen for a local justice area is present at a sitting or other meeting of lay justices assigned to or acting in that area he (or the most senior of them) must preside.

(3)Neither subsection (1) nor subsection (2) applies if, in accordance with rules, the chairman or (as the case may be) the deputy chairman asks another of the lay justices to preside.

(4)Subsections (1) and (2) do not confer on the chairman or a deputy chairman a right to preside in court if, under rules, he is ineligible to do so.

(5)Subsections (1) and (2) do not confer on the chairman or a deputy chairman a right to preside—

(a)in a youth court or family proceedings court,

(b)at meetings of a committee or other body of justices of the peace which has its own chairman, or

(c)at sittings when a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) is engaged as such in administering justice.

(6)Rules may make provision for the purposes of subsections (3) and (4) and may in particular make provision—

(a)as to training courses to be completed by lay justices before they may preside in court,

(b)as to—

(i)the approval of lay justices, in accordance with the rules, before they may preside in court,

(ii)the lay justices who may be so approved, and

(iii)the courts to which the approval relates, and

(c)as to circumstances in which a lay justice may preside in court even though requirements imposed under paragraph (a) or (b) are not met in relation to him.

(7)Rules may also make provision—

(a)specifying the maximum number of lay justices who may sit to deal with a case as a magistrates' court, and

(b)as to the arrangements to be made for securing the presence on the bench of enough, but not more than enough, lay justices.

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