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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78739 Find in a Library
Title: Royal Commission on Legal Services - Benson and the Criminal Bar
Journal: Criminal Law Review  Dated:(February 1980)  Pages:75-84
Author(s): M Hill
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The British Royal Commission's main recommendations on criminal legal aid are discussed.
Abstract: The Commission's basic view of the criminal bar is that it should exist only so long as it provides a service which is satisfactory, in the public interest, and at a cost which is fair. The Commission has been subjected to its widest criticism over proposed changes in funding legal aid. The Commission's main recommendation about criminal legal aid is that a statutory right to legal aid in all criminal courts exists, except in summary-only matters. In the latter, legal aid may be refused if the magistrates' court is satisfied that the defendant is unlikely to receive a custodial sentence, deportation of care order, or to suffer any substantial damage to his/her livelihood or reputation, and that representation is not needed for the adequate conduct of the case; the Commission also recommends that there should be no contribution to legal aid in magistrates' court proceedings and no contribution to legal aid by an acquitted defendant in the Crown Court. The first recommendation seems appropriate, except that defendants charged with a criminal driving offense ought to fund their own legal services. Regarding the recommendation concerning fees for legal aid services, a blanket free assistance for defendants should not be so readily accepted. An investigation of each defendant's ability to pay some portion of legal fees seems appropriate in the interest of having the accused assume proper responsibility for his/her defense where some ability to pay is evident. Tabular data and nine footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Commission reports; Legal aid services; Legal fees; United Kingdom (UK)
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