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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 23: Payment for services

175.Section 23 concerns payments for services by legally aided individuals. The section largely reflects powers in sections 10, 17 and 17A of the Access to Justice Act 1999 and brings together provisions on payments for services into a single provision applicable (for the most part) to both civil and criminal legal aid.

176.Subsection (1) sets out the basic rule that an individual who receives legal aid can only be required to make a payment in connection with the provision of the services where regulations require them to do so. Any regulations made under subsection (1) must provide for repayment to the individual of any amount paid by the individual that exceeds the amount required to be paid by regulations under this section and section 24 (see subsection (11)).

177.Subsection (2) is a non-exhaustive list of ways in which regulations made under this section can require payments from individuals. Regulations can, in prescribed circumstances, require payment of the cost of the services, a contribution in respect of those costs or an amount in respect of administration costs.

178.Subsection (3) permits regulations to provide that, in civil disputes only, legally aided individuals may be required to make a payment of an amount which exceeds the costs of the services provided. This allows for a so-called ‘Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme’ whereby a percentage of certain damages obtained by a successful legally-aided claimant may be required to be paid to a prescribed person, such as the Lord Chancellor. The response to the consultation paper Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales confirmed the Government’s intention to create such a scheme. There is an equivalent provision at section 10(2)(c) of the Access to Justice 1999.

179.Subsection (4) permits regulations made under this section to include provision about how the costs of services made available to a legally-aided individual are to be determined. This reproduces provisions currently found in sections 10(6)(b), 17(3)(c) and 17A(2)(b) of the Access to Justice Act 1999.

180.Subsections (5), (8) and (9) make further provisions about the contents of regulations that may be made under this section. Regulations may, for example, provide for liability to pay to arise on a determination by a prescribed person (as is currently the case for criminal contributions and orders to pay costs) and for the variation or withdrawal of a determination about liability to make a payment. Regulations may also make provision for payment by periodical payments or lump sums out of income or capital and for procedural matters, such as when payment is to be made and to whom.

181.Subsections (6) and (7) make provision in identical terms to section 21(3) and (4), explained at paragraph 168 above.

182.Subsection (10) permits regulations to provide that a legally-aided individual can be required to pay interest on loans, payments required to be made after the provision of the relevant services and overdue payments. Similar provision is currently made in section 10(4) and section 17(2)(d) of the Access to Justice Act 1999.

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