Free legal aid

26 january 2016

“Heuristics” edition: “Free legal aid” is part of the LPRC “Improving access to justice in Kazakhstan” project implemented with the support of the US Embassy in Kazakhstan.

What is legal aid, to whom is it available in Kazakhstan, how do the lawyers work, and what problems need to be addressed? On these issues, the "Heuristics" program meets Gulnar Baigazina, the head of the legal consultation "Advokat", a member of the Presidium of the Republican Bar Association and a member of the Presidium of the Almaty City Bar Association.

The state very clearly outlines the range of persons to whom the state guaranteed legal aid will be granted if a request is made. Free legal aid is provided, if the subject is a minor; persons suffering from mental illness; incapacitated citizens. These are the subjects who are in need of protectors a priori.

In criminal proceedings, free legal aid is provided to the accused person in cases where the prosecutor involved or when the second party has a lawyer. Based on our practice, today there is no case in criminal practice, when the access to free legal aid was denied.

The administrative procedure also stipulates that participation of a lawyer is mandatory in cases where a party requests it.

In civil proceedings the attorney can be provided free of charge for pensioners, veterans of the Great Patriotic War, persons equated to them, disabled groups I and II, orphans, military personnel during military service and women with young children. If during the judicial proceedings listed participants are asking for qualified legal aid, the judge makes a decision and sends it to the territorial office of legal consultation. The consultation appoints a lawyer who accepts an instruction and obtains a warrant to conduct the case.

There are certain requirements of the quality of services provided of all lawyers, including providing free legal aid. In particular, the lawyers took an ethical code, which is written: "To carry out the work honestly and conscientiously" The attitude of lawyers to perform their duties must be very serious, regardless of whether they are working under the agreement or for other purposes. Even before the adoption of the law on state-guaranteed legal aid, lawyers conducted their own analysis on the participation of lawyers in cases of agreement and in cases of appointment. The results showed that when lawyers take part in cases to which they were appointed, the results are better than in matters under the agreement.

In connection with the adoption in Kazakhstan Law on state-guaranteed legal aid, we have a single administrator. This body makes payment to appointed lawyers. The Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan acts as an administrator.

What needs to be changed?

Firstly, you need to strictly define the circle of citizens who are granted free legal aid in criminal proceedings. For example, pre-trial investigation authorities investigated cases of corruption or embezzlement, etc. For criminal liability involving well-off people, who have the means, the family, according to the law, since it is a serious crime, it is necessary to provide counsel to them. And he appoints a lawyer, and the state fully pays for that lawyer. In my opinion, in such cases, a lawyer should be paid by the person on their own, because they have a substantial income and are able to pay for legal services.

Secondly, you must decide on how to pay for the work of lawyers working as intended and providing legal assistance guaranteed by the state. There should be an adequate amount of remuneration for lawyers and eliminate bureaucratic delays in obtaining decisions on remuneration, that is to simplify the mechanism of remuneration of lawyers. We realize that the simpler the system, the less corruption and the quicker the end user gets the legal assistance they need.

The purpose of the above expert video project "HEURISTICS" is simply to clarify complex concepts. We appeal to the individual experts to clarify the various issues that arise in the course of discussions of key reform legislation and law enforcement practice of the Republic of Kazakhstan, new trends in international standards and the principles and standards of international law which are already familiar to us.

Our project is designed for a wide audience, and, we hope, will be of interest not only to specialists of law, but also to anyone who is ready to receive information from first-hand experts.