Does the FLA system dismiss lawyers who turned out to be inconvenient?

14:36 Wed 01.05.24 196 Reviews

The contract with the lawyer who asked uncomfortable questions about the distribution of assignments and payment for services in the free legal aid system was not extended.

The situation was discussed at the last meeting of the Bar Council of Ukraine on April 30.

Oksana Kadenko, a member of the UNBA from Khmelnytsky region, chairman of the UNBA Committee on Legal Aid, explained that the lawyer had previously tried to find out the reasons for the refusal, but the regional center of free legal aid explained its decision by the lack of justified need, i.e., want. But this argument cannot be accepted, because at the same time competitions are being announced. That is, there is still a need to conclude contracts with lawyers. Perhaps this was done to deprive the lawyer of access to information about problems in the system.

So what exactly is the «justified need to engage lawyers to provide free secondary legal aid» that is used by the FLA system as a criterion for announcing competitions and deciding on the conclusion of contracts with lawyers? O. Kadenko also said that earlier this need was explained by the discretion of the person making the relevant decision. Such a paradox, when the objective need is actually determined by subjective considerations, requires the study of statistical indicators, namely: how many advocates fulfill assignments, what kind of assignments they are, how many contracts are terminated or not extended, the figures of negative assessment of internal monitoring, etc.

Yuriy Gordeev, a member of the UNBA from Ternopil region, who also works at the local FLA center, noted that in their practice, contracts were signed with all lawyers who were in the register and who expressed a desire. He suggested that there was some kind of personal conflict in the situation under consideration. At the same time, Y. Gordeev expressed his belief that if a lawyer passed the competition procedure, he had the right to work with the system and the administrative staff should sign a contract with each lawyer. He was supported by Victoria Gaivoronska, head of the Kharkiv Regional Bar Council, who believes that there can be no quantitative quotas. And if a lawyer is included in the register of lawyers who have the right to provide free legal aid, the center has an obligation to conclude a contract with him or her.

Lidiya Izovitova, the President of UNBA, BCU suggested looking at the problem in the context of how the UNBA can help those who find themselves in a similar situation. The lawyers who passed the competition and were included in the register are entitled to provide free legal aid, and this right, if violated, is subject to protection. Although the competition itself also has a dubious legal basis. After all, a person who has received the right to practice law can obviously also provide legal aid in the FLA system. However, these considerations of the Bar are unlikely to be accepted by the state body. Vadym Krasnyk, Head of the UNBA Secretariat, also doubts the feasibility of the competition. He suggested that the case in question is not the only one among the nine thousand lawyers in the register, and in fact, many of them may not have contracts.

Following the discussion of the issue, the participants of the meeting concluded that the state (represented by the FLA centers) has an obligation to conclude contracts with lawyers who have passed the competition and have been included in the register of lawyers providing free secondary legal aid. To protect lawyers, the relevant provision should be enshrined in the Procedure and Conditions for Concluding Contracts with Lawyers Providing Free Secondary Legal Aid (Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 8 of 11.02.2012). The Bar Council of Ukraine will address the Government and the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights with the relevant proposals.

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