16. Unrepresented Accused

16.1   Care must be exercised by a prosecutor dealing with an unrepresented accused. This may involve striking a balance between inconsistent imperatives. The duty of fairness requires a prosecutor to ensure that the accused is appropriately informed of the prosecution case and the course it will take. The court has an overriding duty to ensure that the proceedings are fairly conducted, and the prosecutor should assist the court to do so by acting and responding appropriately during the course of the proceedings. While a prosecutor is not obliged to provide advice of any sort to an unrepresented accused, it is in the interests of justice to ensure that an unrepresented accused seeks or applies for legal representation or assistance.

16.2   In communications with an unrepresented accused a prosecutor should maintain a degree of detachment. Written communication is preferable and communication may be made through the agency of the court. Telephone communications should be avoided by prosecutors and where required should be made by law enforcement officers. Personal contacts should be in the presence of a reliable person who should compile a note in writing of any communications made.

16.3   Plea negotiations with an unrepresented accused should not be initiated by the prosecution and should be conducted with care, and where possible, in the presence of a reliable person and appropriately recorded.