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Courts Act 2003

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Justices' clerks and assistant clerks

27Justices' clerks and assistant clerks

(1)A justices' clerk is a person who is—

(a)appointed by the Lord Chancellor under section 2(1), and

(b)designated by the Lord Chancellor as a justices' clerk.

(2)A person may be designated as a justices' clerk only if he—

(a)has a 5 year magistrates' court qualification,

(b)is a barrister or solicitor who has served for not less than 5 years as an assistant to a justices' clerk, or

(c)has previously been a justices' clerk.

(3)The Lord Chancellor—

(a)must assign each justices' clerk to one or more local justice areas, and

(b)subject to subsection (4), may change an assignment so as to assign the justices' clerk to a different local justice area or to different local justice areas.

(4)Before changing an assignment of a justices' clerk so that he is no longer assigned to a local justice area, the Lord Chancellor must consult—

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

(b)if it is not possible or not practicable to consult the chairman, the deputy chairman or such of the lay justices assigned to or acting in the area as appear to the Lord Chancellor appropriate.

(5)An assistant to a justices' clerk is a person who is—

(a)appointed by the Lord Chancellor under section 2(1) or provided under a contract made by virtue of section 2(4), and

(b)designated by the Lord Chancellor as an assistant to a justices' clerk.

(6)The Lord Chancellor may by regulations provide that, subject to such exceptions as may be prescribed by the regulations, a person may be designated as an assistant to a justices' clerk only if he—

(a)has a 5 year magistrates' court qualification, or

(b)has such qualifications as may be prescribed by, or approved by the Lord Chancellor in accordance with, the regulations.

(7)In this Part “assistant clerk” is short for “assistant to a justices' clerk”.

28Functions

(1)Rules may make provision enabling things authorised to be done by, to or before a single justice of the peace to be done instead by, to or before a justices' clerk.

(2)Rules may also make provision enabling things authorised to be done by, to or before a justices' clerk (whether by virtue of subsection (1) or otherwise) to be done instead by, to or before an assistant clerk.

(3)An enactment or rule of law which—

(a)regulates the exercise of any jurisdiction or powers of justices of the peace, or

(b)relates to things done in the exercise or purported exercise of any such jurisdiction or powers,

applies in relation to the exercise or purported exercise of any such jurisdiction or powers by a justices' clerk by virtue of subsection (1) as if he were a justice of the peace.

(4)The functions of a justices' clerk include giving advice to any or all of the justices of the peace to whom he is clerk about matters of law (including procedure and practice) on questions arising in connection with the discharge of their functions, including questions arising when the clerk is not personally attending on them.

(5)The powers of a justices' clerk include, at any time when he thinks he should do so, bringing to the attention of any or all of the justices of the peace to whom he is clerk any point of law (including procedure and practice) that is or may be involved in any question so arising.

(6)For the purposes of subsections (4) and (5) the functions of justices of the peace do not include functions as a judge of the Crown Court.

(7)Subsections (4) and (5) do not limit—

(a)the powers and duties of a justices' clerk, or

(b)the matters on which justices of the peace may obtain assistance from their clerk.

(8)In this section “rules” means rules made by the Lord Chancellor.

(9)Before making any rules for the purposes of this section the Lord Chancellor must consult—

(a)the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee,

(b)the Family Procedure Rule Committee, and

(c)the Magistrates' Courts Rule Committee.

29Independence

(1)A justices' clerk exercising—

(a)a function exercisable by one or more justices of the peace,

(b)a function specified in section 28(4) or (5) (advice on matters of law, including procedure and practice), or

(c)a function as a member of the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee or the Family Procedure Rule Committee,

is not subject to the direction of the Lord Chancellor or any other person.

(2)An assistant clerk who is exercising any such function is not subject to the direction of any person other than a justices' clerk.

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