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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 27: Choice of provider of services etc

194.Section 27 makes provision about an individual’s choice of provider of criminal and civil legal aid.

195.Subsections (1) and (2) provide that the Lord Chancellor’s duty under section 1(1) does not include a duty to secure that legal aid is provided by the means selected by the individual. For example, in certain cases, the Lord Chancellor may arrange for some services to be provided only by telephone or by other electronic means.

196.Subsection (3) provides that the Lord Chancellor’s duty under section 1(1) does not include a duty to secure that legal aid is provided by a person selected by an individual, except as provided in subsections (4) to (10). For example, in civil cases, as at present, the intention is that an individual must select a person with whom the Lord Chancellor has entered into a contract or other arrangement (for example, provision of services by telephone or by other electronic means) for the provision of those services.

197.In relation to representation for criminal proceedings, subsection (4) and (5) provide that an individual may select a legal representative of their own choice and that choice will be respected, subject to regulations made under subsection (6). Those regulations may limit choice in the ways referred to in subsection (6). For example, the regulations may limit the choice to a specified group of providers or may limit the number of legal representatives who can act for any individual at any one time. They may also restrict the right of the individual to appoint a new legal representative in place of one previously chosen.

198.Similar powers exist in section 15 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 in relation to a right to representation. Under that section provision has been made, for example, limiting an individual’s choice to providers who hold a contract with the LSC to provide legal services and about the circumstances in which an individual may be represented by Queen’s Counsel or by more than one junior advocate, and limitations have been placed on an individual’s right to transfer a representation order to a new provider.

199.Section 26 does not prevent regulations restricting an individual’s choice to a person employed by the Lord Chancellor (unlike section 15(4) of the Access to Justice Act 1999).

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