oa De Rebus - Editors page



With the passing of the Legal Aid Act 1969, legal aid in South Africa enters an important new phase. As a matter of fact, legal aid in the sense of an organised effort on the, part of the State to meet the need for legal services of those who can not afford to pay for those services themselves"" has hitherto hardly existed. Neither the in forma pauperis scheme nor the pro deo defences provided by the State for those charged with capital offences fall within the ambit of this definition. The in forma pauperis scheme ,benefits only a very small proportion of indigent persons and it provides for representation in civil litigation only. In any event, the State makes no contribution to the aid thus provided and the whole financial burden of providing the aid falls on the shoulders of the legal profession alone, The pro deo scheme on the other hand is based on an entirely different concept and should not be confused with, or even regarded as legal aid. Pro deo representation is provided by the State in order that no man, whether he be rich or poor, shall stand trial for his life without the opportunity of being represented by counsel.


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