|Coroners And Justice Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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585. Paragraphs 4 and 5 amend section 19 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 and Paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 respectively, as substituted by Schedule 3 to the 2003 Act (not yet in force). The existing legislation sets out the criteria for determining whether an offence triable either way should be tried summarily or on indictment by, in the case of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 a magistrates court, or, Crime and Disorder Act 1998, a Crown Court. It permits the prosecution to inform the courts of any previous convictions of the defendant, previous convictions being convictions by a court in the United Kingdom or convictions or findings of guilt under service law.
586. The amendments add to what is a previous conviction to include convictions by a court in another member State, provided that the offence of which the defendant was convicted would also have been an offence in the United Kingdom if it had been done there at the time the allocation decision is made.
587. Paragraph 6 of Schedule 15 amends section 143 of the 2003 Act, which sets out the principles the court must follow when determining the seriousness of an offence, in the context of sentencing an offender. Any previous convictions, where they are recent and relevant, must be regarded as an aggravating factor which should increase the severity of the sentence.
588. Paragraph 6 extends what is a previous conviction to include previous convictions by a court in another European Union member State, provided that the offence would have been an offence in the United Kingdom if it had been done there at the time of the trial of the defendant for the current offence. Paragraph 6 also makes clear that the court is not prevented from treating a previous conviction by a court outside the UK and an European Union member State, or a conviction by a court in an European Union member State of an offence which would not amount to an offence in the UK, as aggravating factors where the court considers it appropriate to do so.
589. Paragraph 7 amends section 238 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which makes equivalent provision to section 143 of the 2003 Act in respect of service offences. Section 238 has been amended in a similar fashion to section 143.
590. Section 151 of the 2003 Act provides the court with a discretionary power for dealing with persistent petty offenders. Where an offender is aged 16 or over when he is convicted and has been sentenced to a fine on at least three previous occasions, the court may impose a community sentence even if the current offence is one which would on its own warrant a fine only. Section 151 has been amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, and although these amendments have not yet come into force, the amendments made by paragraph 8 are to section 151 as amended.
591. Paragraph 8 of Schedule 15 extends section 151 to require previous convictions by a court in another European Union member State to be taken into account to the same extent as previous convictions in the United Kingdom, provided that the offence to which the conviction relates would also have been an offence in the United Kingdom if it had been done there at the time of the defendants trial for the current offence.
592. Section 110 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 provides for a minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment where a person aged 18 or over at the time of the offence is convicted of a third class A drug trafficking offence in England and Wales, unless the court considers it would be unjust to do so in all the circumstances of the case. A class A drug trafficking offence is one which can be committed anywhere in the UK. Section 111 of that Act similarly provides for a minimum sentence of three years imprisonment where a person aged 18 or over at the time of the offence is convicted of a third domestic burglary in England and Wales. Only previous domestic burglaries committed in England and Wales are counted. Section 113 of that Act provides that certificates of conviction which are in accordance with the requirements of that section are evidence of convictions in relation to a class A drug trafficking offence or a domestic burglary.
593. Paragraph 9 extends sections 110 of the 2000 Act to require a previous conviction by a court in another European Union member State to be taken into account to the same extent as a previous conviction in the UK, provided that the offence to which the conviction relates would have constituted, a class A drug trafficking offence if it were done in the UK at the time of the conviction. Only offences committed after the time that the amendment comes into force will be relevant.
594. Section 113 of the 2000 is extended so that a previous conviction by a court in another European Union member State, or a conviction by a court in another part of the UK, must be taken into account to the same extent as a previous domestic burglary conviction in England and Wales, provided that the offence to which the conviction relates would have constituted domestic burglary if it were done in England and Wales at the time of the conviction. Only offences committed after the time that the amendment comes into force will be relevant.
595. Also amended is section 113 of the 2000 Act, to make provision for the treatment of certificates of convictions produced by courts in other parts of the UK outside England and Wales and in European Union member States.
596. Paragraph 10 amends section 263 of the Armed forces Act 2006, which imposes a restriction on imposing a custodial sentence or service detention on an unrepresented offender. The restriction does not apply if the offender was aged 21 or over when convicted, and has previously been sentenced to imprisonment by a civilian court in the UK, or for a service offence. Section 263 is amended to include a previous sentence to detention by a court in any other European Union member State.
597. Paragraph 11 of Schedule 15 makes changes to the conditions which must be satisfied for a young offender to be sentenced to a referral order by amending section 17 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 to take account of convictions obtained in another European Union member State.
598. When a child or young person is given a referral order, he or she is required to attend a youth offender panel, which is made up of two volunteers from the local community and a panel adviser from a youth offending team. The panel, with the young person, their parents/carers and the victim (where appropriate), agree a contract lasting between three and 12 months. The aim of the contract is the prevention of reoffending by the offender.
599. Section 17 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 has been amended by section 35 of the 2008 Act and, although these changes have not yet come into force, references below are to the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 as amended.
600. Section 17(1) of the 2000 Act sets out the conditions which, if met, require the court to make a referral order (the compulsory referral conditions). They apply where a young offender aged under 18 appears before a UK court, has no previous convictions and pleads guilty to the offence or offences with which they are charged. Paragraph 11(2) extends the provision in respect of what count as previous convictions, so that a previous conviction by a court in another European Union member State will count in the same way as a conviction by a UK court, so that a young offender with previous convictions in another European Union member State will fall within the compulsory referral conditions.
601. Section 17(2A) to (2C) of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 set out the circumstances in which a court may, but is not obliged to, impose a referral order (the discretionary referral conditions). Where the compulsory referral conditions are not satisfied, a referral order may be made where the young offender pleads guilty to the offence or at least one of the other offences they are charged with and the young offender:
a) has not been convicted previously in a UK court;
b) has been convicted only once before in a UK court and has not previously received a referral order, or;
c) has been convicted more than once before a UK court and received a referral order on only one other occasion (subject to further conditions).
602. Paragraph 11(3) to (5) make amendments to these conditions so that convictions by or before a court in another European Union member State are treated in the same way as a conviction by or before a UK court (making allowance for the fact that of course an offender convicted in another European Union member State cannot have received a referral order in respect of that conviction).
603. Section 73 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 enables convictions (or acquittals) for offences in the UK to be proved by means of a certificate of conviction (or acquittal) signed by the proper officer of the court. At present, overseas convictions are proved under section 7 of the Evidence Act 1851, which requires that the judgment either be sealed by the foreign court or signed by the judge of the foreign court. Paragraph 12 of Schedule 15 amends section 73 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 so as to extend the procedures for proving convictions or acquittals in other member States of the European Union by way of certificates signed by the proper officer of the court.
604. Section 74 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides that the fact that a person other than the accused has been convicted of an offence by a UK court or a service court, is admissible in evidence for the purpose of proving that that person committed the offence; where a person other than the accused is proved to have been convicted of an offence by or before a UK court or a service court, he must be taken to have committed that offence unless the contrary is proved; and establishes a presumption that any person convicted of an offence in the UK actually committed it. Paragraph 13 amends section 74 so that convictions for offences in other European Union member States are treated in the same way as UK convictions.
605. Section 75 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 makes certain documents, such as the charge-sheet, admissible as evidence of the facts on which a conviction was based for the purposes of section 74. It also provides that a copy of a document which is purported to be certified or authenticated by or on behalf of the court or authority having custody of that document, where the document is admissible under this section, is to be taken to be a true copy of that document unless the contrary is proved. Paragraph 14 amends section 75 to extend these provisions to documents relating to convictions in other European Union member States.
606. Sections 73 to 75 of the 1984 Act extend to England and Wales only. Equivalent provision to sections 73 to 75 is made for Northern Ireland in the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989.
607. . Sections 73 to 75 of the 1984 Act extend to England and Wales only. Equivalent provision to sections 73 to 75 is made for Northern Ireland in the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989. Paragraphs 15 to 17 make similar amendments to the 1989 Order as are provided by paragraphs 12 to 14 for the 1984 Act.
608. Sections 54 to 56 of the Courts Act 2003 set out grounds for the surrender, seizure and retention of certain articles carried by persons entering court buildings. In particular, section 55 provides, with certain exceptions, that seized or surrendered items must be returned when the owner leaves the court building.
609. Subsection (3) of clause 125 inserts a new section 55A, into the Courts Act 2003, to provide a different procedure for the retention of all knives that have been surrendered to or seized by a court security officer. New section 55A(2) provides that section 55 does not apply where a knife is seized by or surrendered to a court security officer. Under new section 55A, knives must be retained, unless returned or disposed of in accordance with regulations under section 55A(5) or 56.
610. New section 55A(4) provides that, if the court security officer reasonably believes that a retained knife may be evidence of, or in relation to, an offence, he or she can retain the knife for so long as necessary to enable the court security officer to draw it to the attention of a police constable.
611. Under new section 55A(5), the Lord Chancellor must make provision in regulations, subject to the negative resolution procedure, for the procedure to be followed when a knife is retained, the making of requests for the return of retained knives and the procedure for the return of knives. Under section 56, regulations can make provision about the disposal of unclaimed knives.
612. New section 55A(6) states that the definition of a knife includes a knife-blade and any other article which (a) has a blade or is sharply pointed, and (b) is made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person.
613. Clause 126 provides a similar scheme for Northern Ireland by amending paragraph 5 of, and adding a new paragraph 5A into, Schedule 3 to the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004.
614. Clause 127 provides for Part 4 of the Courts Act 2003 to be applied in respect of tribunal buildings as it currently does for courts. Part 4 of the Courts Act 2003 details the powers of court security officers and the circumstances in which they may exercise them lawfully. It also sets out grounds for the surrender, seizure and retention of certain articles carried by persons entering court buildings.
615. Subsection (1) gives the Lord Chancellor power, by order subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, to provide for the designation of security officers in tribunal buildings. The order may apply the provisions in Part 4 of the Courts Act 2003 with any necessary modifications. Part 4 includes the powers in new section 55A of that Act (inserted by clause 125) which provides different procedure for the retention of all knives that have been surrendered to or seized by a court security officer. Under the new section 55A of the Courts Act 2003 knives must be retained, unless returned or disposed of in accordance with regulations under sections 55A(5) or 56.
616. The definition of tribunal buildings and other definitions are set out in subsection (3). Tribunal buildings includes buildings used by the following tribunals: the First-tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, employment tribunals, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Subsection (3) also gives the Lord Chancellor power to designate by order further tribunals whose buildings are to be included in the definition of tribunal buildings. This clause extends to England and Wales only; therefore the provision of security arrangements under clause 127 can only apply to UK-wide tribunals listed in section 39(1) of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (the 2007 Act) when they are sitting in England and Wales.
617. The creation of the Community Legal Service (CLS) was part of the Governments fundamental reform of the legal aid system, as set out in the Access to Justice Act 1999.
618. The purpose of the CLS is to ensure that individuals who qualify financially and have reasonable grounds for bringing or being part of any action, can receive publicly funded legal assistance in civil matters that are within scope of the civil scheme.
619. The Legal Services Commission (LSC) was created under the Access to Justice Act 1999, and has responsibility for administering the CLS Fund, and setting priorities about the types of services that may be funded; or for carrying out any changes to funding priorities that the Lord Chancellor directs are necessary.
620. The services that may be funded through the CLS Fund are set out in the Funding Code, which also sets out the criteria according to which the LSC decides whether or not to fund services.
621. As the LSC continuously monitors, reviews and enhances the services being provided through the CLS, it will occasionally need to explore or pilot new ways of delivering specialist services so that the costs and benefits can be judged in practice. Section 18A of the Access to Justice Act 1999 (inserted by section 57 of the 2008 Act) contains a power to pilot schemes in relation to the CDS (Criminal Defence Service), but at present there is no express power to pilot civil schemes under the CLS within the Act.
622. Clause 128 amends the Access to Justice Act 1999 to give express power to pilot schemes as part of the CLS. Section 6(8) of the Access to Justice Act 1999 empowers the Lord Chancellor to direct or authorise the LSC to fund the provision of services in specified circumstances. Subsection (2) inserts new subsections (8A) and (8B) to make it clear that the circumstances may relate to particular areas or courts and that funding may be for particular classes or selections of people.
623. Subsection (3) inserts a new section 8A into the Access to Justice Act 1999. Section 8A enables pilots to be carried out to explore possible changes to the Funding Code and indicates how the pilots may be chosen, for example that they are to apply in a particular area or to a particular class of person. Section 8A also specifies that the length of any pilot service should be limited to three years unless the LSC believes the pilot provisions need to remain in operation while the required Parliamentary approval of any changes to the code is being obtained.
624. Subsection (4) is a consequential amendment to section 9(5) of the Access to Justice Act 1999 on the procedure for making changes to the Funding Code.
625. Subsection (5) inserts a new section 11A into the Access to Justice Act 1999. Section 11A enables pilot schemes to be made in delegated legislation made by the Lord Chancellor which relates to the CLS. As with piloting provisions in the Funding Code, the new section sets out the criteria for determining how and where a pilot scheme is to take place. It also specifies that the length of the scheme is limited to three years. This Lord Chancellor may extend this period to cover any gap between the end of the pilot and extending the pilot more generally.
626. Subsection (6) amends section 25 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 to provide for the parliamentary procedure for delegated legislation containing pilot schemes.
627. Schedule 2 to the Access to Justice Act 1999 lists those areas of law in relation to which the provision of help may not be funded as part of the CLS.
628. Paragraph 1(h) of Schedule 2 currently excludes any matters arising out of the carrying on of a business. Business cases were excluded from the scope of civil funding as they are low priority cases and alternative forms of funding are available. In addition, only individuals may make applications or be funded as part of the CLS.
629. Subsection (2) of clause 129 omits paragraph 1(h) and subsection (3) replaces it with a new paragraph 1A. The new paragraph provides that as well as cases arising out of the carrying on of a business, which can be any activity carried out by an individual with a view to profit, cases which relate to an individual planning or proposing to set up a business, or cases which relate to the transfer or termination of a business, are also excluded from the CLS and the CDS. Examples are disputes that arise out of the carrying on of a business that is no longer trading and disputes arising out of the preliminary steps of establishing a business regardless of whether the business exists at the time of the application.
630. This clause amends section 17A of and Schedule 3 to the Access to Justice Act 1999. Subsection (1) extends the power to seek information from the Commissioners for Her Majestys Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Secretary of State, which at present may be exercised for purposes relating to an individuals financial eligibility for legal aid services, to cover purposes relating to an individuals liability to make contributions towards the cost of those services.
631. Subsections (3) to (5) amend paragraph 6 of Schedule 3 to the Access to Justice Act 1999 to provide that requests may be made for information relating to a time specified in the request, as well as to information as at the date of the request. Subsection (7) is a consequential amendment to paragraph 7 of Schedule 3 (restrictions on disclosure).
632. Subsection (4) amends paragraph 6 of Schedule 3 to allow requests to be made for any previous names or addresses of an individual.
633. Subsection (5) amends paragraph 6 of Schedule 3 to allow requests to the Commissioners to be made about self-employed individuals and an individuals benefit status.
634. Subsection (6) amends paragraph 6 of Schedule 3 to allow information requests to be made about an individuals assets as well as income.
635. Subsection (8) amends paragraph 8 of Schedule 3 to clarify how requests as to an individuals employment apply where the individual is an office-holder, and to delete an unnecessary provision relating to the 1998 Act.
636. Clause 131 amends sections 17 and 17A of the Access to Justice Act 1999. It also introduces Schedule 16 which inserts new Schedule 3A into the Access to Justice Act 1999.
637. Subsection (2) inserts new subsection (4) and (5) in section 17 of the Access to Justice Act 1999, and sets out what regulations on the enforcement of recovery of defence costs order may provide for.
638. Such regulations may provide for the addition of the costs of enforcing liability under a recovery of defence costs order to the amount which is unpaid and, for this purpose subsection (3)(c)adds a definition of overdue sum.
639. This clause also provides that overdue sums are recoverable summarily as a civil debt, that is to say through magistrates courts in accordance with the Magistrates Courts Act 1980. Overdue sums are also recoverable if a county court or the High Court so orders on the application of the person owed the sums, as if they were payable under an order of that court in accordance with rule 70.5 of the Civil Procedure Rules (The Civil Procedure (Amendment No 3) Rules 2008, SI 2008/3327), thereby making it unnecessary to begin fresh proceedings in respect of the debt.
640. Subsection (3) inserts new subsections (2A) to (2E) into section 17A of the Access to Justice Act 1999. New subsection (2A) provides, as for recovery of defence costs orders, that enforcement regulations may add the costs of enforcing liability under a contribution order to the amount which is unpaid, and in addition that any overdue sums are recoverable summarily as a civil debt or recoverable, if a county court or the High Court so orders as if they were payable under an order of that court. Enforcement regulations may also provide for the withdrawal of an individuals right to representation in certain circumstances and may empower courts to make motor vehicle orders. These are defined in new subsection (2B) of section 17A as clamping orders and vehicle sale orders, which are themselves defined in new subsections (2C) and (2D) of section 17A. Under a vehicle sale order a motor vehicle which has been fitted with an immobilization device in accordance with enforcement regulations may be sold and the proceeds of sale applied in paying the overdue sum. Subsection (4) inserts new Schedule 3A to the Access to Justice Act 1999.
641. New Schedule 3A sets out further provisions relating to motor vehicle orders. Paragraph 2 of new Schedule 3A states that enforcement regulations may in particular make provision for the procedure for making an order, what matters must be included in the order, the fitting of clamping devices and notices to motor vehicles, the removal and storage of motor vehicles, the release of the clamp or the motor vehicle from storage, the conditions which need to be met before the release, sale or other disposal of an unreleased motor vehicle, the imposition of charges in connection with any of the above and the recovery of such charges.
642. Paragraph 3 of new Schedule 3A requires enforcement regulations to provide that a motor vehicle order may be made only on the application of the person or body to which the overdue sum is owed (in practice this is likely to be the LSC).
643. Before a clamping order is made the court must be satisfied (paragraph 4 of new Schedule 3A) that the person has wilfully refused or culpably neglected to pay and that the value of the motor vehicle, if sold, would be likely to be an amount which exceeds half of the estimated recoverable amount. The estimated recoverable amount is the combined total of the amount of the overdue sum and the amount of charges likely to be due under the enforcement regulations.
644. Enforcement regulations must also provide (paragraph 5 of new Schedule 3A) that a clamping order may be made only in relation to a vehicle which is owned by the individual liable to pay the overdue sum. A clamping order may not be made in relation to a vehicle used by a disabled person (paragraph 6 of new Schedule 3A).
645. Paragraph 7 of new Schedule 3A provides that enforcement regulations must also state that no vehicle sale order may be made in respect of the vehicle before the end of a specified period.
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