Legal Aid. Definition. Legal aid is state-funded legal representation, advice and assistance, usually carried out by a solicitor or a barrister It is available since 1949
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Definition • Legal aid is state-funded legal representation, advice and assistance, usually carried out by a solicitor or a barrister • It is available since 1949 • Today it is administered by the Legal Services Commission (LSC): The Community Legal Service for civil cases and The Criminal Defence Service for criminal cases
LSC • The LSC was established in 1999 • It runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales • Their work is overseen by the Ministry of Justice • The annual legal budget is set by the Treasury (currently £2 billion budget) • Community Legal Advice is the helpline offering free, confidential and independent legal advice
About legal aid • The government provides funding for legal aid to help people: • Protect their basic rights and get a fair hearing – the rule of law • Access the court process to sort out disputes • Solve problems that contribute to social exclusion
Who can get legal aid? • People of limited means: persons who are receiving income support or income based jobseeker’s allowance • Every applicant has to provide a statement about their income and capital • Capital should not exceed £8,000 • If a client provides false information, public funding is taken away
Who can provide legal aid? • Solicitors or advice agencies that hold a contract with the LSC • In the earlier systems, any solicitor could provide legal assistance and then claim fees from the State
The LSC provides help through 5,400 solicitors’ offices and not-for-profit advice agencies and funds 5,578 Duty Solicitors to provide advice at police stations and Magistrates’ Courts
Social justice • In a democratic society all citizens have a right to access justice and get a fair trial • The LSC helps people understand their legal obligations and if necessary enforce their legal rights
Translation • Translate the following statement: • Many people are reluctant to take a matter to law; they fear they may be involved in heavy costs and end up worse off then before. • Do you agree with that statement?
History of legal aid • Legal aid was born on July 30, 1949 • Legal Advice and Assistance Act was passed in 1972 – the services of a solicitor became obtainable for work not necessarily involving litigation • Legal Aid Act 1988 brought various changes of legal aid, including the introduction of means and merit test • Access to Justice Act 1999 established the Legal Services Commission
Means and merit test • Means test – to see if the applicant is sufficiently finacially disadvantaged to be eligible for legal aid • Merit test – the case is evaluated in order to establish whether it it is relevant enough to receive public funding
Access to Justice Act 1999 • Changed legal aid by introducing new criteria and selection mechanisms • It established the main authority for the organisation and provision of legal aid – the Legal Services Commission
How legal aid is changing • Legal services are being transformed by: • Working only with providers whose commitment and quality is trusted • Contracted firms undergo regular audits • Changing the way providers are paid • Cutting administration costs
Benefits for the clients • Shorter cases as solicitors and advisors are able to make their own decisions • Less form filling • More information early on the case • A stronger relation with the solicitor or advisor
Types of legal aid in civil and criminal matters • Legal help – giving advice, writing letters or preparing a written case for the court • Help at court – a solicitor can appear in court on a client’s behalf without formally acting for them in the whole proceedings • Family mediation – help with disputes relating to children, money and property out of court • Legal representation – representing a client in court
Legal aid funding Funding is available for expensive cases, cases involving human rights issues, housing, family disputes, immigration etc. It is not available for wills, defamation, claims of personal injury, boundary disputes, company law etc.
Vocabulary • Legal aid – pravna pomoć • People of limited means – ljudi ograničenih sredstava • Fair trial – pošteno suđenje • Means test – provjera imovinske sposobnosti • Merit test – provjera opravdanosti zahtjeva • Litigation – parničenje • Jobseeker’s allowance – naknada za nezaposlene • Family mediation – obiteljsko posredovanje • Defamation - kleveta
Vocabulary exercise • Legal aid is a system by which those below a certain _______ can receive free or subsidized legal representation or advice. In _______ cases, it is paid for mainly from public funds. In _______ cases, costs will usually be met from the costs awarded by the court. It was _________ in Britain in 1949, and is now covered in Scotland by the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act (1986), and in England and Wales by the Legal Aid Act (1988). The high ________ of legal advice is placing strain on the scheme.
Answer key • Legal aid is a system by which those below a certain income can receive free or subsidized legal representation or advice. In criminal cases, it is paid for mainly from public funds. In civil cases, costs will usually be met from the costs awarded by the court. It was introduced in Britain in 1949, and is now covered in Scotland by the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act (1986), and in England and Wales by the Legal Aid Act (1988). The high cost of legal advice is placing strain on the scheme.