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If the judge feels the matter is unduly dragging along in the court system without any notable progress, then yes s/he is able to demand the matter be set down for trial on a with or without counsel basis.
If your son has obtained a legal aid certificate but unable to find a lawyer who will accept it, he should go to the legal aid office and request they help him find one. If that doesn't work, get the legal aid worker who helped to write a letter in support of the fact they made best efforts but to no avail. That should buy some more time, or persuade the judge to try and direct a lawyer to represent him.
If your son was denied legal aid, then lawyers will likely only take on his case if he pays them. If he can't afford a lawyer, he can try to bring forward to the court a Rowbotham Application, which is an application seeking an Order from the court requiring his defence to be funded / paid for by legal aid.
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