The Most Vulnerable Social Groups’ Access to Legal Aid: Amendments to the Law “On Legal Aid”


14 07 01On December 21, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Law of Ukraine “On the High Council of Justice”, effectively amending the Law of Ukraine “On Legal Aid” by expanding the eligibility people which have the right to free secondary legal aid. Soon, the categories of persons entitled to free secondary legal assistance will significantly expand through the law on the most vulnerable social groups.

New internally displaced persons, persons applying for displaced status, and persons applying for the status of war veterans, including combatants, are now deemed eligible categories of persons with the right to legal aid. Secondary legal aid will be available to war veterans, including combatants, as well as others persons who are subject to the Law of Ukraine “On the status of war veterans, guarantees of their social protections.” Until now, the latter law had only provided war veterans with legal assistance concerning social security issues, but it has now been expanded to permit them to ask questions of any legal matter.

The new amendments also significantly increased the poverty threshold determining eligibility to free secondary legal aid, as follows:

- First, economic eligibly is determined on the basis of an individual’s average income and no longer by the total average family income;
- Second, a person is eligible if their income does not exceed two living wages; and,
- Third, disabled persons have the right to legal aid if they receive an amount of pension or social assistance equal to and not exceeding two living wages for a disabled person (differing from the former rule that the amount must be less than two living wages).

The newly eligible groups were recognized under the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine’s changes to the Law of Ukraine “On Legal Aid” (Supreme Council of Ukraine, 2011, No. 51, p. 577):

In the first paragraph of Article 14:

a) Paragraph 1 shall read as follows:

1) Persons under the jurisdiction of Ukraine, with an average monthly income of less than two subsistence minimums, as calculated and approved in accordance to the law for persons belong to basic and demographic groups, and disabled people who receive a pension or assistance instead, in the amount not exceeding two living wags for disabled persons – all forms of legal services are provided for by Article 13 of this Law

b) to add new items, 21 and 22, as follows:

21) internally displaced persons are to be provided with all of the forms of legal services under Article 13 of this Law;

22) citizens of Ukraine applying to be internally displaced persons are to be provided with legal services under paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 13 of this Law, and issues related to obtaining a certificate of registration for internally displaced persons, until the moment when the certificate of registration as an internally displaced person is obtained;

c) in paragraph 9, the words “for legal services provided by paragraphs 1-3 of Article 13 of this law, on matters related to their social protection” will change to “all forms of legal services provided by Article 13 of this Law.”

d) to add the new paragraph, 91, as follows:

91) persons under the jurisdiction of Ukraine which applied for the status covered by the Law of Ukraine “On the status of war veterans, guarantees of their social protection,” on the legal services provided for in paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 13 of this Law, until the moment in which a decision has been made to grant such status.

The Law "On the High Council of Justice" will come into force from the date of it’s publication.

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Development and administration: Serhiy Trotsenko | [email protected]