1. Identify your defendant as vulnerable.   In the event of a defendant being identified as “vulnerable” the defence lawyer is required to apply to the court for a special measure direction for the appointment of an intermediary to support them, in accordance with Part 29 of the Criminal Procedure Rules.  The court will normally consider its powers under Part 30 of the Consolidated Criminal Practice Direction as well as Rule 29 of the Criminal Procedure Rules 2010. The purpose of both the direction and the Rules is to extend to proceedings in the adult courts the procedures analogous to the range of special measures in youth courts. A defendant may be considered vulnerable when they are young and overtly immature, or when they have a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983, or some other significant impairment of intelligence and social function such as to inhibit their understanding of and participation in the proceedings. The overriding principle is that all possible steps should be taken to assist a vulnerable defendant to understand and participate in those proceedings. The ordinary trial process should, so far as necessary, be adapted to meet those ends.

2. Solicitor calls the Communicourt enquiry line 0121 663 0931.   Our friendly staff will take a few details about your case.  Communicourt will provide you with a quotation for assessment within 2 working days.

3. Our quotation will enable you to apply for prior authority. It is the responsibility of the defence lawyer to pay for the services of an intermediary for pre-trial work and you may need to apply to the LSC for prior authority.  Should this be rejected HMCTS may then consider meeting these costs.

4. Once funding is agreed you will be able to instruct us by faxing to us the signed Booking Form, and a copy of the prior authority. We will then be in a position to allocate an intermediary for your client’s assessment.   Our office liaises with solicitor’s office to arrange an assessment meeting for the client and intermediary.  This usually takes place at the solicitors’ office or at the prison/secure unit/hospital.

5.  The assessment will be carried out by a qualified Speech and Language Therapist or Psychologist who has also undergone an intensive  Communicourt Intermediary Training course.  We allow between 2 and 3 hours for assessment of your client’s communication skills. Your client may need regular breaks if he has a short attention span.

6. Communicourt intermediary prepares a report and a quotation for the trial ( if assessed as appropriate).   We aim to provide a report within 7 days of assessment.

7. Report and quotation presented to the court.  If the report recommends an intermediary the next step is to ask the court to fund our services.  Until Section 104 if the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 is implemented HMCTS is required to fund the payment of intermediaries during court proceedings from its existing budget.  In the absence of specific statutory provision the courts are not able to make payments for intermediaries from central funds; therefore HMCTS has agreed the following approach until such processes have been formalised: HMCTS will meet the costs of intermediaries for defendants and in order to minimise the bureaucracy, it has been agreed that payment will be made by local courts from their existing allocations, and a Natural Account Code 226425 has been set up for this purpose .

8. Court instructs a Communicourt intermediary. We will need a Booking Form signed by court personnel. This may be a Legal Advisor (Magistrates Court) or Court Clerk (Crown Court).

9. Communicourt allocates an intermediary for the trial.  As soon as we receive formal instruction we will book an intermediary for the trial.  We will do our best to appoint the same intermediary as prepared the report but this is sometimes not possible if forms are submitted very late.

10. Communicourt intermediary attends court and assists communication.

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