How will specialists in village councils assess the work of lawyers? The Cabinet of Ministers Resolution needs to be changed
The Cabinet of Ministers, in regulating the organisation of free primary legal aid by local governments, agreed with the UNBA's position on the need to abolish the requirements for the qualifications of lawyers involved in such assistance. However, the issue of monitoring the quality of FLA requires further changes.
This refers to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1088 of 13.10.2023, which approved:
- The procedure for engaging lawyers and other specialists in the relevant field of law by local self-government bodies to provide free primary legal aid;
- The Procedure for the provision of free primary legal aid by entities established or contracted by local governments.
The members of the Bar Council of Ukraine assessed these legal acts at a meeting on 23 October.
As a reminder, the draft resolution prepared by the Ministry of Justice was considered by the Government Committee on Economic, Financial and Legal Policy, Fuel and Energy Complex, Strategic Industries and Law Enforcement on 11 October. The initial version of the draft law provided for four qualification requirements for lawyers who may participate in the provision of FLA: membership in the UNBA, 1 year of work experience, participation in professional development activities and no disciplinary sanctions. At the same time, there were only two requirements for other legal professionals (law degree and 1 year of experience).
At a meeting of the governmental committee, Oksana Kadenko, the Chairman of the UNBA Committee on Legal Aid, called this differentiated approach completely unreasonable and discriminatory. And in the final version of the Procedure for engagement (see clause 5), the requirements for lawyers were completely removed.
However, the comments on the procedure for assessing the quality, completeness and timeliness of free legal aid provision were only partially taken into account. Thus, according to the developers, local governments were supposed to monitor the quality. As explained by Deputy Minister of Justice Oleksandr Banchuk at the time, the quality of work should be monitored by the person who pays for it. At the same time, according to Part 2 of Article 25 of the Law «On the Bar and Practice of Law», the provision of free legal aid by lawyers should be assessed by commissions established for this purpose by regional bar councils. And local self-government bodies are referred to as the subjects of the appeal. That is why the Cabinet of Ministers tried to make the final version of clause 11 of the Procedure for the provision of free legal aid a compromise:
«The mechanism for monitoring the activities of a legal aid provider may be determined by local self-government bodies.
In order to assess the quality, completeness and timeliness of the provision of free primary legal aid by lawyers, local governments may apply to the relevant commissions established by the bar councils of the regions».
O. Kadenko, as a member of the BCU, noted during the meeting that this version of the FLA Procedure contradicts the provisions of the Law «On the Bar and Practice of Law», which clearly refers the task of assessing the quality, completeness and timeliness of the provision of FLA by lawyers to the powers of the bar, not local self-government bodies.
«We have to return to the work of the commissions for assessing the quality of free legal aid, because it is through the FLA system that processes toxic to the bar are taking place today, - said Kadenko. - Even if we do not take into account the need to bring the adopted resolution in line with the law, I am not sure that village councils will have a sufficient number of specialists capable of professionally assessing the work of lawyers».
In this regard, the BCU decided to appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with an initiative to amend the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of 13.10.2023 No. 1088 in this regard. At the same time, it is planned to revise the regulations on quality commissions. «It is important to understand that these commissions are not disciplinary bodies. They are primarily intended to protect the interests of lawyers, - says member of the BCU, - and this vector of work requires joint efforts with the Ministry of Justice».
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