On 1 September 2016 more than 400 Legal Aid Bureaus offices started providing services in the districts and cities of regional significance in Ukraine (except the temporarily occupied territories). Every resident of the territorial community can get free advice on legal issues and use the electronic services of the Ministry of Justice.
Legal Aid Bureau is a Ukraine-wide network of access points to free legal aid, active dissemination of legal information and access to legal advice at the level of territorial communities.
The main objectives of the Legal Aid Bureau are as follows:
- legal awareness in territorial communities;
- provision of free primary legal aid, legal information and consultations;
- provision of access to free secondary legal aid (courtroom representation) for vulnerable categories of citizens;
- provision of access to the electronic services of the Ministry of Justice.
In practice it means that everyone, who applies to the Bureau for legal advice, will get it and will have an access to the electronic services of the Ministry of Justice. Besides, the customers will have the opportunity to receive access to legal services through the Bureau, if it is necessary and in the case of persons that have the right to free secondary legal aid. The experts of the Bureau will also represent the interests of such persons in court for certain types of disputes.
According to the head of the Coordinating Centre for Legal Aid Providing Andriy Vyshnevskiy, the activity of the Legal Aid Bureau offices will be primarily aimed at increasing legal awareness of residents of rural areas and small towns.
Receiving legal aid at the Bureau offices will promote the using of legal aid among citizens to solve their life issues instead of the conventional corrupt practices. This also will improve pretrial settlement of civil and administrative litigation; will reduce the risks of limiting the access to law and justice for the most vulnerable segments of society due to the introduction of the exclusive right of lawyers to have representation in court and the lack of lawyers in rural areas and small towns; will involve the territorial communities to work with local authorities formed by them; will reduce domestic violence, discrimination and promote crime prevention, especially among minors.
"After creation of the Legal Aid Bureau offices we have completed the step of forming an extensive network of access to the state-guaranteed legal aid. We have managed to organize the provision of free legal aid in all types of cases, accepted by the Law of Ukraine "On free legal aid" to subjects of law for a year and a half earlier than it was provided for by the law in 2011," Andriy Vishnevsky commented.
Team of Chirnihiv Legal Aid Bureau office. Photo: Coordinating Centre for Legal Aid Providing
The opening of the offices is managed according to the Plan of priority actions of the Government for 2016, adopted by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No 418 dated 27 May, 2016.
The content of the right to free legal aid, the procedure for implementing of this right, the grounds, procedure and state guarantees on the provision of free legal aid are determined by the Law of Ukraine "On free legal aid" (Law). The law was passed and directed to the implementation of Resolution 1466 (2005) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "Honoring of obligations and commitments by Ukraine", which, in particular, was consisted of such obligation of Ukraine: "13.13. to establish a professional Bar association, by adopting a new law on the Bar without further delay, as required by Assembly Opinion and in compliance with the principles of the Council of Europe and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights".
Free primary legal aid includes such types of legal services as legal services providing legal information, consultations and explanations on legal issues; drafting requests, claims, procedural and other legal documents; legal representation of person in courts and other state authorities, public authorities, and versus other persons; providing judicial remedy against charges; assisting individuals in providing access to secondary legal aid and intermediation.
From 1 September 2016 free legal aid is available to all citizens of Ukraine, foreigners, stateless persons, including refugees or persons who need additional protection in local centers providing free secondary legal aid and the Legal Aid Bureau, which are the structural branches of local centers.
Free secondary legal aid includes such types of legal services as protection, representation of the interests of persons that have a right to free secondary legal aid in the courts, other state agencies, self-governing authorities, and versus other persons, drafting procedural documents.
From 1 January 2013 free secondary aid in Ukraine is provided to the persons to whom administrative detention has been applied; to persons to whom administrative arrest has been applied; to persons who have been detained on suspicion in committing a crime; to persons taken into custody as a form of preventive measure; in criminal proceedings in respect of which in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine, the defender is sued by the investigator, prosecutor, examining magistrate or the court for protection by the appointment or carrying out of separate procedural action. The organizations of these services are managed by regional centers for granting free secondary legal aid. One regional center works in each region.
From 1 July 2015 free secondary legal aid in Ukraine is available for all categories of entities set forth by Law. In particular: low-income persons, children-orphans and children whose parents have been stripped of their parental rights, refugees, war veterans (including ATO participants), members of families of fallen combatants, rehabilitated persons and persons in relation to whom the court is considering restriction of one’s civil capability or the provision of psychiatric care in compulsory order, etc., according to the article 14 of this Law. The organization of these services is provided by local centers providing free secondary legal aid. There are from 3 to 8 local centres in each region.
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