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Legal Aid Scheme ACT, 1997

FOURTH   REPUBLIC

LEGAL AID SCHEME ACT, 1997 (ACT 542)

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

 

 

PART I— ESTABLISHMENT OF LEGAL AID SCHEME       Read more

Section

1.  Legal Aid Scheme established  

2.  Persons entitled to legal aid

3.  Legal Aid Board

4.  Composition of Board

5.  Functions of the Board

6.  Tenure of members of the Board

7.  Allowances for members

8.  Meetings of the Board

9.  Committees of the Board


PART II—REGIONAL LEGAL AID COMMITTEES     Read more

10. Regional Committees established

11. Composition of Regional Committees

12. Functions of Regional Committees

13. Tenure of members of Regional Committees

14. Meetings of Regional Committees

15. Selection Committee


PART III—ADMINISTRATION     Read more

16. Director of legal aid

17. Functions of Director

18. Assistant Directors

19. Functions of an Assistant Director

20. Secretary to the Board and other staff

21. Delegation of power of appointment

22. Legal personnel of Scheme

23. Transfer of public officers

 

PART IV—GENERAL AND FINANCIAL PROVISIONS       Read more

24. Application for legal aid

25. Expenses of applicant

26. Funds of the Scheme

27. Financial committee of Regional Committee

28. Budget

29. Accounts and Audit

30. Half yearly reports

31. Annual report

32. Ministerial responsibility

33. Regulations

34. Interpretation

35. Repeals and saving

 

 

 

THE FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY-SECOND

ACT OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA

ENTITLED

THE LEGAL AID SCHEME ACT, 1997, ACT 542

AN ACT to re-enact the Legal Aid Scheme Law, 1987 (P.N.D.C.L. 184) to ensure the effective operation of the Scheme; to bring the provisions in respect of the Scheme in consonance with the Constitution and to provide for related matters.

DATE OF ASSENT 31ST DECEMBER, 1997

BE IT ENACTED by Parliament as follows—


 

PART I—ESTABLISHMENT OF LEGAL AID SCHEME

Section 1—Establishment of Legal Aid Scheme.

There is established by this Act the Legal Aid Scheme, referred to in this Act as "the Scheme".

Section 2—Persons Entitled to Legal Aid.

(1) For the purposes of enforcing any provision of the Constitution, a person is entitled to legal aid in connection with any proceedings relating to the Constitution if he has reasonable grounds for taking, defending, prosecuting or being a party to the proceedings.

(2) A person shall also be entitled to legal aid—

(a) if he earns the Government minimum wage or less and desires legal representation in any—

(i) criminal matter; or

(ii) civil matter relating to landlord and tenant, insurance, inheritance with particular  reference to the Intestate Succession Law, 1985 (P. N. D. C. L. 111), maintenance  of children and such other civil matters as may from time to time be prescribed by  Parliament; or

(b) if in the opinion of the Board the person requires legal aid.

(3) For the purposes of this Act, legal aid shall consist of representation by a lawyer, including all such assistance as is given by a lawyer, in the steps preliminary or incidental to any proceedings or arriving at or giving effect to a compromise to avoid or to bring an end to any proceedings.


Section 3—Legal Aid Board.

Subject to the other provisions of this Act the Scheme shall be administered by the Legal Aid Board.


Section 4—Composition of Board

(1) The Board shall consist of—

(a) a Justice or a retired Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature who shall be the Chairman of the Board;

(b) the Attorney-General or his representative;

(c) a representative of the General Legal Council;

(d) the Director of Legal Aid;

(e) a representative of the Ghana Bar Association;

(f) the Director of Legal Education;

(g) the Controller and Accountant-General or his representative;

(h) four other persons, one of whom shall be the Director of the Department of Social Welfare or his representative and one female lawyer; and

(i)  a representative of the Inspector-General of Police.

(2) The members of the Board shall be appointed by the President acting in consultation with the Council of State.


Section 5—Functions of the Board.

The Board shall be responsible for—

(a) developing a comprehensive legal aid programme and policy to be carried out throughout the country;

(b) supervising the general administration of the legal aid programme; and

(c) approving the selection of lawyers for participation in the legal aid programme without prejudice to the right of an applicant to have a lawyer of his own choice.


Section 6—Tenure of Members of the Board.

(1) The members of the Board shall hold office for three years and are eligible for re-appointment on the expiration of the period.

(2) A member of the Board may resign his office in writing addressed to the President through the Minister.

(3) Where the office of a member of the Board becomes vacant before the expiration of his term or if for any other reason that member is unable to perform the functions of his office, the Minister shall notify the President who shall, acting in consultation with the Council of State appoint another person to complete the unexpired term of office.

(4) A person appointed to complete the unexpired term of a member may after serving the unexpired term be appointed a member of the Board.


Section 7—Allowances for Members.

Members of the Board shall be paid such allowances as shall be determined by the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for Finance.


Section 8—Meetings of the Board.

(1) The Board shall ordinarily meet for the dispatch of business at such times and at such places as the Chairman may determine but the Board shall meet at least once every three months.

(2) The Chairman shall upon the request of not less than one-third of the membership convene a special meeting of the Board.

(3) The quorum at a meeting of the Board shall consist of six members.

(4) The Chairman shall preside at meetings of the Board and in his absence a member of the Board elected by the members present from among their number shall preside.

(5) Questions before the Board shall be decided by a simple majority of members present and voting.

(6) The Chairman shall have an original and a casting vote.

(7) The validity of any proceeding of the Board shall not be affected by any vacancy among its members or by any defect in the appointment or qualification of a member.

(8) A member of the Board who is absent from three consecutive meetings of the Board without sufficient cause shall cease to be a member.

(9) Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Board shall regulate the procedure for the conduct of its meetings.


Section 9—Committees of the Board.

The Board may for the discharge of its functions appoint committees of the Board comprised of members of the Board or non-members or both and may assign to them such of its functions as it may determine except that a committee composed entirely of non-members may only advise the Board.


 

PART II—REGIONAL LEGAL AID COMMITTEES

Section 10—Regional Committees Continued in Existence.

(1) There shall be established in each Region, a Regional Legal Aid Committee, referred to in this Act as a "Regional Committee"

(2) A Regional Legal Aid Committee shall be answerable to the Board.


Section 11—Composition of Regional Committees.

(1) A Regional Legal Aid Committee shall consist of—

(a) a Judge or retired Judge of the Superior Court in the region who shall be the Chairman of the Committee;

(b) a representative of the Attorney-General in the region;

(c) three nominees of the General Legal Council;

(d) two representatives of the Ghana Bar Association in the region;

(e) a social worker nominated by the Department of Social Welfare in the region; and

(f) a representative of the Controller and Accountant-General in the region.

(2) The members of a Regional Committee shall be appointed by the Board.


Section 12—Functions of Regional Committees.

A Regional Committee shall be responsible for—

(a) the general administration of the Scheme in the region;

(b) approving the selection of legal practitioners for participation in the Scheme in the region on behalf of the Board; and

(c) any other matters relating to the Scheme in the region that the Board may determine.


Section 13—Tenure of Members of Regional Committees and Allowances.

(1) The members of a Regional Committee shall hold office for three years and are eligible for re-appointment on the expiration of the period.

(2) There shall be paid to the members of a Regional Committee such allowances as the Minister in consultation with the Minister for Finance may determine.


Section 14—Meetings of Regional Committees.

The provisions of section 8 on meetings of the Board shall be applicable to the meetings of a Regional Committee except that the quorum for a meeting of a Regional Committee shall be three, and shall include the Chairman or in his absence the member acting as Chairman.


Section 15—Selection Committee.

(1) A Regional Committee shall appoint a Selection Committee consisting of any three  members of the Regional Committee at least one of whom shall be a lawyer.

(2) The Selection Committee shall be responsible for considering and approving applications for legal aid.


 

 

PART III—ADMINISTRATION

Section 16—Director of Legal Aid.

(1) The Scheme shall have a Director who shall be appointed by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Board given in consultation with the Public Services Commission.

(2) The Director shall hold office on such terms and conditions as shall be specified in his letter of appointment.

(3) Subject to such general directions as the Board may give, the Director shall be responsible for the efficient management of the Scheme.

Section 17—Functions of  Director.

Without limiting the scope of subsection (3) of section 16 the Director shall be responsible for—

(a) the day-to-day operation of the Scheme;

(b) the supervision of the legal personnel and other staff of the Scheme;

(c) co-ordinating the operation of the Scheme nationwide to ensure uniformity;

(d) initiating proposals for the formulation of policies by the Board; and

(e) executing decisions of the Board.


Section 18—Assistant Directors.

There shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the advice of the Board given in consultation with the Public Services Commission an Assistant Director for each Regional Committee.

 

Section 19— Functions of an Assistant Director.

(1) An Assistant Director shall be responsible for—

(a) the day-to-day operation of the Scheme in the region;

(b) co-ordinating the operation of the Scheme within the region; and

(c) executing decisions of the Board and the Regional Committee within the region.

(2) An Assistant Director shall be the secretary to the Regional Committee.


Section 20—Secretary to the Board and Other Staff.

(1) The Scheme shall have an officer to be designated as secretary to the Board who shall perform the functions of keeping accurate records of proceedings and decisions of the Board and perform such other functions as the Board or the Director may direct.

(2) The President may acting in accordance with the advice of the Board given in consultation with the Public Services Commission appoint for the Scheme, such other staff as the Board may require for the effective implementation of the Scheme.


Section 21—Delegation of Power of Appointment.

The President may in accordance with article 195(2) of the Constitution delegate his power of appointment of public officers under this Act.


Section 22—Legal Personnel of Scheme.

(1) The legal personnel of the Scheme shall consist of selected legal practitioners.

(2) The National Service Board shall assign to the Board such lawyers liable to do national service as the Board may request.

(3) The Bar Association of each region shall, with the approval of the General Council of the Bar, select legal practitioners who shall, subject to the approval of the Board, make their services available to the Scheme.

(4) A legal practitioner selected under this section shall be paid such remuneration as the Board may determine.


Section 23—Transfer of Public Officers.

(1) Public officers may be transferred or seconded to the Scheme or may otherwise be required to give assistance to the Scheme.

(2) The Board shall provide such facilities as may be necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of the Scheme.


 

 

PART IV—GENERAL AND FINANCIAL PROVISIONS

Section 24—Application for Legal Aid.

(1) An applicant for legal aid shall be required to complete such application form as the Board may determine.

(2) The application shall be subject to the approval of the Selection Committee appointed under section 15 of this Act.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) shall not apply where the applicant has been indicted for an offence punishable by death or life imprisonment.

(4) An applicant whose application is disapproved by the Selection Committee may appeal to the Regional Committee and where the applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the Regional Committee, he may appeal to the Board.

(5) There shall be paid in respect of such application as the Board may direct such fees as the Board may determine.


Section 25—Expenses of Applicant.

(1) An applicant whose application is approved shall be exempted from paying the prescribed fee in respect of the filing of relevant court documents and the cost of preparing appeal records.

(2) The Board may instruct the Director to pay on behalf of the applicant all or such of the expenses related to the case of the applicant as it may determine.

(3) Where an award is made in favour of the applicant, the Board may recover from the applicant such of the expenses incurred on behalf of the application as the Board may determine.


Section 26—Funds of the Scheme.

(1)  The funds for the operation of the Scheme shall include—

(a) money provided by Parliament;

(b) donations;

(c) gifts; and

(d) fees paid by applicants.

(2) The Board shall appoint a financial committee consisting of any three members of the Board who shall be responsible for the allocation and monitoring of the funds of the Scheme.


Section 27—Financial Committee of Regional Committee.

A Regional Committee shall appoint a financial committee consisting of any three members of the Regional Committee who shall be responsible for the allocation and monitoring of the funds within the region.


Section 28—Budget.

The Board shall submit to the Minister responsible for Finance through the Minister detailed estimates of the budget for the Scheme for the ensuing year.


Section 29—Accounts and Audit.

(1) The Board shall keep books of account and proper records in relation to them and the books and records of the Scheme shall be in such form as the Auditor-General may approve.

(2) The account books and records of the Scheme shall, within three months after the end of each financial year, be audited by the Auditor-General or an auditor approved by him and a report on the audit shall be submitted to the Board.

(3) The financial year of the Scheme shall be the same as the financial year of the Government.


Section 30—Half-Yearly Reports.

The Secretary to a Regional Committee shall submit to the Director a half-yearly report on the operation of the Scheme in the region.


Section 31—Annual Report.

(1) The Board shall after the expiration of each financial year but within six months after the end of the year, submit to the Minister an annual report covering the activities and the operations of the Scheme for the year to which the report relates.

(2) The annual report submitted under subsection (1) shall include the report of the Auditor-General.

(3) The Minister shall within two months after the receipt of the annual report submit the report to Parliament with such statement as he considers necessary.

(4) The Board shall also submit to the Minister such other report as the Minister may in writing request.


Section 32—Ministerial Responsibility.

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice shall have ministerial responsibility for the Scheme.


Section 33—Regulations.

The Minister may by legislative instrument make such regulations as may be necessary for the full implementation of the provisions of this Act.


Section 34—Interpretation.

In this Act unless the context otherwise requires—

"Director" means Director Of Legal Aid; and

"Minister" means the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.


Section 35—Repeals and Saving.

(1) The following enactments are repealed—

Legal Aid Scheme Law, 1987 (P.N.D.C.L. 184); and

Legal Aid Scheme (Amendment) Law, 1988 (P.N.D.C.L. 200).

(2) Notwithstanding the repeal of the enactments specified in subsection (1) of this section—

(a) any regulation or other instrument made under any of these enactments and in force immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall continue in force until amended or revoked under this Act;

(b) any appointment made under any of the repealed enactments and valid on the coming into force of this Act shall remain valid as if made under the corresponding provision of this Act until terminated or otherwise dealt with under this Act;

(c) any committee appointed under the repealed legislation and in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall continue as if appointed under this Act;

(d) any case being handled by the Scheme in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act which is not concluded under the repealed enactments shall continue and be concluded by the Scheme established under this Act;

(e) any asset, right or property held on behalf of the Scheme in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall be transferred to the Scheme established under this Act; and

(f) any obligation and liability subsisting against the Scheme immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall on the commencement of this Act subsist against the Scheme.

Date of Gazette Notification: 31st December, 1997.

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