Monitoring the quality of lawyers' services: what is wrong today

Advocacy
19:14 Tue 19.03.24 50 Reviews
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Employees of the free legal aid system, who sometimes have minimal work experience and a vague understanding of the legal profession, are at the same time empowered by the state to assess the quality of legal aid provided by lawyers.

Monitoring of the quality of legal aid provision was identified as one of the main problems of the FLA system during the presentation of a report prepared by the Ukrainian National Bar Association.

The problem itself lies in the systemic interference by the FLA authorities in the essential activities of the lawyer.

According to Art. 25 of the Law «On the Bar and Practice of Law», the assessment of the quality, completeness and timeliness of the provision of legal aid by lawyers is carried out by commissions established for this purpose by the regional bar councils.

«The correctness of this provision and its compliance with the guarantees of the independence of the legal profession is beyond doubt, - the UNBA Committee on Legal Aid believes. - Therefore, all existing complaints should be sent by the centers to such commissions. But the FLA centers are trying to consider complaints against lawyers on their own. Moreover, they try to draw conclusions from such complaints to continue cooperation with the lawyer».

There are four flaws in the current monitoring procedure:

1) it is carried out by employees of the centers, whose qualification requirements are minimal;

2) it involves humiliating procedures, namely: control of the advocate in court, self-assessment questionnaire of the advocate, interviewing of the client;

3) may be an instrument of potential abuse, since the centers themselves have the right to initiate termination of the agreement with the lawyer;

4) lack of real need and inefficiency. According to the report on the work of the FLA system in 2023, only one case of non-compliance with quality standards was identified. At the same time, in 2023, 1618 observations were made of 1403 lawyers and 451 clients were interviewed.

The UNBA is convinced that although the Coordination Center does not publish information on the costs of monitoring departments, it is clear that the figures are not small, since these departments are in every center.

The UNBA report states that the current monitoring of the evaluation of the quality of work of a lawyer is a violation of professional rights, contrary to international provisions and negatively affects the authority of the bar in society and the world. Therefore, monitoring in its current form should be prohibited.

To solve this problem, it is necessary to:

first, to cancel the powers of the bodies of the FLA system to monitor the quality of legal aid provided by lawyers;

secondly, to establish by law the powers of commissions for assessing the completeness, quality and timeliness of legal aid provision in accordance with the law and to strengthen control over the exercise of such powers.

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