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In the region of the Commonwealth Caribbean the provision of legal aid to those charged with serious criminal offences is by no means automatic. However, the Privy Council has recently held in Hinds v AG that the right to a fair hearing, which is guaranteed by section 18(1) of the Constitution of Barbados, requires that in certain circumstances a defendant who is charged with a criminal offence must be afforded free legal representation. In a number of other jurisdictions, judicial recognition of a fundamental right to free legal representation has had a profound impact on the provision of legal aid. Hinds v AG is thus potentially a very important decision. This article describes the current provision of legal aid in criminal matters in the region and, using a comparative approach, seeks to evaluate the significance of Hinds v AG and its potential impact on the provision of legal aid in the region.

Keywords: Canada; Caribbean; India; Ireland; common law; constitutional law; criminal proceedings; fair hearing; human rights; legal aid; right to representation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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