DIVORCE AND MATRIMONIAL CAUSES AMENDMENT BILL 2009
2015 Community Law Centre No. 24
Arrangement of Provisions
1. Short title and commencement
LAW CENTRE AND
3. Establishment of the Centre
4. Functions of the Centre
5. Oversight Committee
6. Legal assistance
7. Prescribed requirements for legal
8. Application for legal assistance
9. Granting of legal assistance
10. Revocation of legal assistance
11. Public Advocate
12. Resignation, termination and
13 Duties and powers of Public
17. Values, principles and code of
18. Funds and audit
19. Corporate plan and annual
20. Exemption from personal
21. Power of Minister
23. Guidelines and manuals
24. Regulations and forms
2015, No. 24
AN ACT to establish the Community Law Centre and to provide
for its functions, duties and powers and for related purposes.
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BE IT ENACTED by the Legislative Assembly of Samoa in
Parliament assembled as follows:
1. Short title and commencement-(1) This Act may be cited as
the Community Law Centre Act 2015.
(2) This Act commences on a date nominated by the Minister.
2. Interpretation-(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise
“Centre” means the Community Law Centre established by
“child” means a person aged 18 years or under;
“lawyer” has the meaning in the Lawyers and Legal Practice Act
“legal aid” means legal aid provided by the Ministry;
“legal assistance” means assistance in a form of legal aid granted
under this Act, and includes legal aid transferred to the Centre
under section 21;
“legal service” means any legal advice or service provided by the
Centre, other than legal assistance;
“Minister” means the Minister for Justice and Courts
“Ministry” means the Ministry of Justice and Courts
“Oversight Committee” or “Committee” means the Oversight
Committee of the Centre established under section 5.
(2) The power to make appointment under this Act, includes the
power to confirm, suspend or terminate the appointment, to promote,
to take disciplinary proceedings or to impose terms and conditions of
COMMUNITY LAW CENTRE
AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
3. Establishment of the Centre - The Community Law Centre is
established as a body corporate with perpetual succession and a
common seal and may:
(a) own and dispose of property and other assets; and
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(b) enter into contracts; and
(c) sue and be sued; and
(d) do any other thing that a body corporate may do under
4. Functions of the Centre-(1) The functions of the Centre are:
(a) subject to section 6, to provide legal assistance to persons
entitled to it in a Court for criminal matters; and
(b) subject to section 6, to provide legal assistance to persons
entitled to it in a Court for civil matters; and
(c) to provide basic or preliminary legal advice and assistance
that a person may further pursue; and
(d) to provide legal assistance to persons entitled to it for other
legal matters, including assistance in mediation
relating to legal assistance or proceedings; and
(e) to provide public awareness and education programmes on
legal rights, obligations and services; and
(f) with the approval of the Attorney General, to act in any
proceedings relating to an order for the welfare of a
child under the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes
Ordinance 1961 or any other enactment relating to the
welfare of a child; and
(g) to carry out any other functions under this Act or any other
(2) The Public Advocate is responsible for carrying out the
functions of the Centre under this Act, subject to the duties and
powers of the Committee.
5. Oversight Committee-(1) The Oversight Committee of the
Centre is established comprising the following members:
(a) the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry, as
(b) a member nominated by the Minister;
(c) the President of the Samoa Law Society or a nominee of
the President from the Council of the Samoa Law
(2) The Oversight Committee may:
(a) advise the Public Advocate on matters relating to the
operation and administration of the Centre; and
(b) approve any fees that the Centre may charge in offering
legal assistance; and
(c) carry out other functions, duties and powers given to it as
prescribed under this Act or any other enactment.
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(3) The following rules apply to any meeting of the Oversight
(a) the Committee must meet at least three (3) times in a year
to be convened by the Chairperson;
(b) the Chairperson determines the date, time and venue of the
(c) two (2) members constitute a quorum;
(d) the Chairperson or, in his or her absence, a member
designated by the Chairperson, presides;
(e) any question before a meeting is to be determined by a
majority of valid votes of the members present;
(f) the presiding member has an ordinary vote and a casting
(g) a member who has an interest in any matter before the
(i) must declare the interest to the Committee;
(ii) must not take part in the deliberation and
voting on that matter without affecting the quorum
of the Committee.
(4) The Committee may require the Public Advocate to attend its
meeting but has no right to vote.
(5) Subject to this section, the Committee may regulate its own
6. Legal assistance-(1) The Centre may, through the Public
Advocate, provide legal assistance under section 4 to a person entitled
(2) The Centre must not provide legal assistance on any of the
(b) matters within the jurisdiction of the Land and Titles
(c) civil proceedings (including judicial review) for or against
the Government or any other State institution or
any public body listed under the Public Bodies
(Performance and Accountability) Act 2001;
(d) conveyance matters.
(3) Legal assistance provided under this Act does not affect legal
aid provided by the Ministry.
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(4) This Act does not limit the power of a court to order legal
assistance to be undertaken by the Centre or legal aid by the Ministry.
7. Prescribed requirements for legal assistance-(1) Without
limiting section 9(2), the Public Advocate may grant legal assistance
pursuant to prescribed requirements.
(2) The prescribed requirements must comply with the following:
(a) cover persons who cannot financially afford lawyers to
represent them in courts; and
(b) for criminal cases, to take into account the number of
previous convictions of applicants for legal assistance;
(c) deal with matters relating to ascertaining the financial
affordability of a lawyer by the applicant; and
(d) deal with any other prescribed requirements for legal
8. Application for legal assistance - A person entitled to legal
assistance must apply in the approved form to the Public Advocate. 9. Granting of legal assistance-(1) When determining an
application for legal assistance, the Public Advocate may grant (with
or without condition) or refuse to grant, legal assistance.
(2) A court may, in special circumstances, order that legal
assistance be provided to a person by the Centre.
10. Revocation of legal assistance - The Public Advocate may
revoke legal assistance if:
(a) the person granted legal assistance has instructed a private
lawyer to act on the person’s behalf; or
(b) the matter no longer requires any legal assistance; or
(c) the person had provided false or misleading information in
the application for legal assistance; or
(d) the Public Advocate or a lawyer of the Centre has a
conflict of interest in a matter that is handled by the
(e) it is in the interests of justice to revoke the legal assistance;
(f) the person withdraws in writing from legal assistance.
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ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
11. Public Advocate-(1) The Head of State, acting on the advice
of Cabinet, may appoint a lawyer with at least seven (7) years of
litigation experience or legal practice, as the Public Advocate.
(2) Before advising the Head of State to appoint the Public
Advocate under subsection (1), Cabinet shall instruct the Oversight
(a) to interview applicants for the Public Advocate; and
(b) to prepare a report and recommendation to Cabinet on the
(3) The Public Advocate:
(a) holds office for a term not exceeding three (3) years,
subject to the terms set out in the contract of
(b) is eligible for reappointment; and
(c) on expiry of the term, continues in office until reappointed
or a successor is appointed.
(4) If for any reason the Public Advocate is unable to carry out his
or her functions under this Act, the most senior Assistant Public
Advocate must act as the Public Advocate, or otherwise an Assistant
Public Advocate designated in writing by the Public Advocate.
12. Resignation, termination and vacancy-(1) The Public
Advocate may resign by delivering to the Head of State a signed
notice of resignation.
(2) The Head of State acting on the advice of Cabinet may
terminate the appointment of the Public Advocate by reason of
misbehaviour or physical or mental incapacity.
(3) The appointment of the Public Advocate is automatically
terminated if the Public Advocate:
(a) is convicted of an offence in Samoa or another country
carrying a minimum penalty of 20 penalty units or two
(2) years imprisonment; or
(b) has been subject to an order under the Mental Health Act
(4) The office of the Public Advocate is vacant if:
(a) the Public Advocate resigns, retires or dies; or
(b) the appointment is terminated.
(5) In this section, “misbehaviour” means neglecting performance
of the duty, function or power of the office or misconducting himself
or herself in office without reasonable excuse or justification.
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13. Duties and powers of Public Advocate - The Public
(a) is the administrative head of the Centre; and
(b) is primarily responsible for conducting all legal matters of
the Centre; and
(c) may provide or approve any legal advice that the Centre
(d) may provide legal assistance for persons entitled to it in a
(e) reports to the Minister through the Committee; and
(f) may carry out other functions under this Act or any other
(g) may carry out other prescribed functions for the purpose of
14. Independence - Except as provided in this Act, the Public
Advocate, Assistant Public Advocates (including any other persons
authorised by the Public Advocate) and legal officers are not subject
to the direction of any other person (except any direction of a court)
when dealing with or conducting legal assistance cases under this
15. Staff-(1) The staff of the Centre comprise the following:
(a) the Public Advocate; and
(b) one (1) or more Assistant Public Advocates; and
(c) legal officers; and
(d) the Office Manager and other officers and employees of
(2) A lawyer with at least five (5) years litigation experience is
eligible to be appointed as an Assistant Public Advocate.
(3) The staff mentioned in subsection (1)(b) to (d) are to be
appointed by the Public Advocate.
(4) The functions of the Office Manager are:
(a) to assist the Public Advocate in the daily operation and
administration of the Centre; and
(b) to ensure that proper records of the Centre are kept; and
(c) to manage the finances of the Centre; and
(d) to carry out any other functions assigned by the Public
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16. Volunteers-(1) The Public Advocate may approve a lawyer or
any other person who wishes to undertake part-time or full-time
volunteer work, such as duty solicitor, at the Centre to undertake
volunteer work for the Centre.
(2) A volunteer is subject to any directions given by the Public
(3) The Committee may, after consulting the Samoa Law Society,
set the number of hours that a member of the Society (“member”)
may undertake in any month or year for legal service at the Centre, as
a condition for rewarding of legal aid to the member.
(4) A member who does not undertake any voluntary legal
services at the Centre pursuant to subsection (3) is not entitled to be
given any legal aid work.
17. Values, principles and code of conduct - Part IV of the
Public Service Act 2004 applies to the staff of the Centre. 18. Funds and audit-(1) The funds for the Centre comprise:
(a) money appropriated by Parliament for the purpose of this
(b) any donations, contribution or other money or fund
received by or on behalf of the Centre; and
(c) fees collected by the Centre under this Act.
(2) The Controller and Auditor General must audit the funds of
the Centre annually and prepare an Auditor’s report on it.
19. Corporate plan and annual reports-(1) The Public
Advocate must ensure that:
(a) a corporate plan of the Centre is prepared pursuant to the
same requirements applying to Ministries; and
(b) an annual report is prepared setting out the operations of
the Centre in the previous year.
(2) The annual report and Auditor’s report must be sent to the
Minister who must as soon as practicable present it to the Legislative
Assembly under its Standing Orders.
20. Exemption from personal liability - A member of the
Committee or staff or any other person who carries out any function,
duty or power under this Act is not personally liable for any act done
in good faith in carrying out the function, duty or power.
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21. Power of Minister-(1) The Minister, acting on the advice of
the Chief Executive Officer, may transfer legal aid funds handled by
the Ministry to be allocated and administered by the Centre.
(2) When the transfer is made under subsection (1), references to
legal assistance under this Act are to be read as references to legal
22. Confidentiality-(1) Any information given to the Centre
under this Act for the purposes of legal advice or legal assistance
must remain with the Centre and has the same privilege as solicitor
and client privileged information.
(2) A person who discloses any information under subsection (1)
without the permission of the Public Advocate commits an offence
and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units or
to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three (3) months, or both.
23. Guidelines and manuals-(1) The Public Advocate may:
(a) issue guidelines on all matters relating to employment
under this Act; and
(b) manuals for legal services and legal assistance provided
under this Act.
(2) If there are no guidelines issued under subsection (1)(a), the
procedures for employment in the Public Service are to be adopted.
24. Regulations and forms-(1) The Head of State, acting on the
advice of Cabinet, may make regulations to give effect to the
provisions or for the purposes of this Act, and in particular to make
the following regulations:
(a) matters relating to employment of the Public Advocate;
(b) duties and powers of the Oversight Committee;
(c) procedures and requirements required under this Act.
(2) The Public Advocate may approve forms for the purpose of
The Community Law Centre Act 2015 is administered
by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.
Printed by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly,
by authority of the Legislative Assembly.