Free legal aid becomes more accessible


Source: forUm

More than 20,000 people received free secondary legal assistance during the last third quarter of 2013, the Information-analytical Bulletin of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine informs.

From July 1 through September 30, 2013, Centers of Free Secondary Legal Aid issued 20,298 orders to lawyers, including 5,695 for rendering assistance to persons detained on suspicion of committing criminal offenses, 11,362 for protection as intended, 2,665 to assist persons subject to administrative detention and 576 for participation in other legal proceedings.

Justice Ministry experts say the centers over the period handled 11,903 procedural documents, including 7,794 investigation orders, 3,961 court decisions, 83 rulings of investigating judges and 65 orders by prosecutors to assign counsel.

The total number of orders issued by centers remained stable, compared to the second quarter. Refusal by defense attorneys to assist persons detained on suspicion of committing criminal offenses are gradually decreasing. They amounted to to 7.8% in the third quarter, a small drop compared to the second quarter.

Experts say free (publicly funded) secondary legal aid is rendered to low-income individuals, disabled persons with pension less than two living minimum wages for handicapped, orphans, children deprived of parental care, homeless children, children who may become or have become victims of domestic violence, and other categories included in Law of Ukraine "On legal aid."

Attorney fees for rendering the secondary legal aid are reimbursed from state budget based on hourly rate of the attorney and actual time of his/her work on rendering the secondary legal aid to person detained under administrative/criminal procedure in the amount of 2.5% from statutory minimum wage per hour of attorney’s work.

Government analysts say the free legal defense system in the country continues to develop. The next stage of transformation is scheduled to begin in January 2014. Final free secondary legal aid services will be rendered by 2017 in the field of criminal law, civil law, and administrative justice.

Such assistance can be requested by persons subject to court hearing on limitation of legal capacity, recognizing incapable, and on compulsory psychiatric treatment. Veterans and persons with special merits for Ukraine will be able to request free legal aid on the matters related to their social protection.

Estimated payments for services and reimbursement of costs to attorneys rendering free secondary legal aid was 94.6 million UAH. In 2014 – 157 million UAH, and in 2015 – 164.6 million UAH (including the reimbursement of travel costs and payment for expertise by initiative of defense: in 2013 – 7.9 million UAH, in 2014 – 8.4 million UAH, and in 2015 – 8.8 million UAH).

  • Geographical area: Ukraine
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