The procedure for introducing peer review in the bill №5107 contradicts the constitutional status of the bar – Volodymyr Vatras, the People`s Deputy
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The procedure for introducing a mechanism for assessing the quality of free legal aid provided for in Bill №5107 contradicts the constitutional status of the bar, so this norm should be removed from this bill for its adoption in parliament.
This was stated by Volodymyr Vatras, the Head of the Subcommittee on the Organization and Activity of Bar, Legal Aid Bodies of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Legal Policy, during the round table "Improvement of Legislation on Free Legal Aid in Ukraine", which took place online.
The event was organized by the Council of Europe Project "Support to the Judiciary of Ukraine in Ensuring Better Access to Justice" jointly with the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Legal Policy.
"The most controversial issue is in Article 6-2 concerning the legal aid evaluation system, and I would like to point out that this article only provides for the possibility of introducing such a system. At the same time, we do not see any proposals from the Government on how it will work. This is the main fear that later, at the level of a decree or order of the Ministry of Justice, we will see a completely different regime and a different procedure from what we expect. The Bar is a constitutional institution, and accordingly any issues of the Bar, the principles of its regulation should be determined exclusively by law. This is stated in paragraph 14 of Art. 92, where it is determined that the principles of organization and activity of the bar are determined exclusively by laws, and not by the bylaws” - the People's Deputy emphasized.
He added that the issue of inclusion of the bills to the agenda are being considered by the Verkhovna Rada Subcommittee on Political Reform and Constitutional Law for compliance with the Constitution.
"I cannot predict the decision of the subcommittee concerning the Art. 6-2 and whether such an article provides for the possibility and right of the Ministry of Justice to determine the principles of control over the bar self-government in the implementation of the peer review system, but there are questions. In most other provisions of the bill, which concern clarification of provisions, introduction of a translator, change of terms, etc. - we can discuss and resolve these issues, but the cornerstone of the bill is the assessment of the free legal aid quality,"- said the head of the parliamentary committee.
According to him, the Bar currently has commissions for assessing the quality of the free legal aid, as well as disciplinary chambers, which can address issues of professional liability of attorneys for violations committed by them in providing legal assistance through the free legal aid system.
Therefore, Volodymyr Vatras proposed to remove this norm and hold a joint discussion of the bill with the participation of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, the Coordination Center, and the Ministry of Justice at the level of the Verkhovna Rada Committee. The People's Deputy also supported the proposal of Oksana Kadenko, a member of the Bar Council of Ukraine (hereinafter – the BCU), who suggested that government regulations on this issue be developed jointly with the BCU.
"Unfortunately, I did not see any norm in the law that would be aimed at improving the quality of legal aid. We need to set up a working group at our subcommittee level or hold another duscussion with all parties and discuss how we can speed up and improve the free legal aid procedure so that this bill suits both the UNBA and the relevant free legal aid bodies and the Ministry of Justice. The logic of the ministry is clear - they should control the spending of public funds for the provision of free legal aid, so maybe we will work out the provisions with the participation of the UNBA, free legal aid centers, or maybe leave the system as it is - it works for a long time. So, let us take away this cornerstone that everyone is talking about, and then this bill has a future, " - Volodymyr Vatras suggested.
According to the government's version of the Article 6-2 of the bill №5107 “Assessment of the quality of free legal aid” provides “In order to introduce a mechanism for independent assessment of the quality of free secondary legal aid provided by attorney using the peer review tool, a commission for independent evaluation of the quality of free secondary legal aid is established.".
Regulations on the commission and its quantitative composition, the mechanism of conducting an independent evaluation of the quality of free secondary legal aid using a peer review tool, the procedure for conducting a competitive selection of expert lawyers to conduct this evaluation shall be approved by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
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