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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 50: Divorce etc proceedings: matters to be considered by court making legal services order

311.Section 50 inserts into the 1973 Act a new section 22ZB, which provides for the matters the court must consider when deciding whether to make (or vary) an order under the new section 22ZA and the terms of any order so made or varied.

312.Subsection (1) of the new section 22ZB lists the matters to which the court must have regard. These include the overall financial position of both parties (as to which subsection (2) of the new section makes supplementary provision about the meaning of “earning capacity” of a party), what the main proceedings are about, whether the party who is being asked to pay already has legal representation, the behaviour of the applicant in the proceedings and the extent to which the party who is being asked to pay is reasonably able to do so (as to which subsection (3) of the new section requires the court to have regard in particular to whether the order is likely to cause undue hardship to the paying party, or to prevent the paying party from obtaining legal services for the purposes of the proceedings).

313.Subsection (4) of the new section provides for the Lord Chancellor to have power to amend the list of factors in subsection (1), and subsections (5) and (6) require such amendment to be by way of statutory instrument subject to affirmative resolution procedure. Subsection (7) of the new section provides for the term “legal services” in this new section to have the same meaning as in the new section 22ZA.

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