Lawyers loyal to the state earn more – report

Advocacy
12:58 Fri 22.03.24 53 Reviews
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The manual distribution of assignments between lawyers in secondary legal aid centers creates corruption risks and violates the principle of independence of the practice of law.

The UNBA Legal Aid Committee drew attention to this problem in its Report on topical issues of the functioning of the legal aid system in Ukraine, which was presented to the public on March 19.

The amount of remuneration of attorneys providing secondary legal aid is determined in accordance with the Methodology for its calculation, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated September 17, 2014, No. 495. The calculation takes into account, among other things, the gravity of the crime of which the person is suspected, the number of accomplices and episodes according to the case file, and other indicators.

The Report notes that, depending on these indicators, the amount of payment for legal aid varies significantly. For example, the scope of work of a defense counsel in the investigation of cases under Part 3 of Article 187 (robbery with breaking and entering) of the Criminal Code and Part 1 of Article 185 (theft) of the Criminal Code may be identical. However, in the first case, according to the Methodology, the payment will be much higher, so these cases are more interesting for lawyers.

And it seems that this is actively used by the FLA system. There are numerous complaints from lawyers that some are assigned to cases of minor crimes only, while others are assigned to cases of serious and especially serious crimes. Because the question of which lawyer will receive an assignment in a particular case is decided by the staff of regional centers for free secondary legal aid, sometimes at the direction of the management. And the loyalty of the lawyer to the officials directly affects the content of the assignments.

«The fact that the distribution of assignments between lawyers has been carried out manually since the beginning of the FLA system creates direct corruption risks. After all, defense attorneys are constantly dependent on the staff of the centers, - explains Oksana Kadenko, Chairman of the UNBA Committee on Legal Aid. - In addition, giving preference to loyal lawyers in this way creates ample opportunities for interference with the legal position of the defense attorney in the case. And this completely eliminates the independence of a lawyer».

With the introduction of the centralized issuance of powers of attorney in 2022, the situation has improved somewhat. However, this has raised the problem of feedback, which is often impossible to obtain, especially after hours.

Therefore, the bar has consistently insisted on the need to introduce automated distribution of powers of attorney and establish liability for unauthorized interference with the auto-distribution system.

«It is clear that the current corruption risks in the distribution of assignments should be eliminated, - said Valentyn Gvozdiy, the Vice President of UNBA, BCU. - To do this, we believe it is necessary to develop and approve the Coordination Center's Anti-Corruption Program together with the Bar Council, introduce a mechanism for the Bar to control the functioning of the FLA system at both national and regional levels, and form at least half of the Supervisory Board of the Coordination Center from among lawyers».

 

 

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