How lawyers adhered to the quality standards of free secondary legal aid provision in 2017

Details

05.06.2018A monitoring of the lawyers’ compliance to the quality standards of free secondary legal aid provision in criminal proceedings (hereinafter - the Standards) was held in 2017. The free legal aid system’s Quality Managers conducted 1401 observations of the work of 1141 lawyers in the courts, as well as 402 interviews with clients. Most lawyers follow the Standards. No gross violations of the Standards have been recorded. Most clients are satisfied with the work of the lawyers.

Please, note that the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision publishes a report on the results of the monitoring.

MONITORING OF THE LAWYERS’ COMPLIENCE TO THE STANDARDS DURING JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS IN THE COURTS OF FIRST AND SECOND INSTANCES

The heads of the regional centres’ for free secondary legal aid provision departments for ensuring the quality of legal aid (hereinafter - quality managers) during the reporting period have held:

- 1401 observations in the courts, including: 987 - in the courts of first instance, 414 - in the courts of second instance; during observations, the compliance to the standards by 1141 lawyers was assessed;
- 402 interviews with clients.
Six cases of non-compliance were identified, in particular:
- the lack of a dossier - 2 cases;
- a lawyer has not notified a centre for free secondary legal aid provision about an admission of a contracted lawyer into a case (including a conclusion of contract with a client he had a mandate to defend) - 2 cases;
- a lawyer has not informed a centre for free secondary legal aid provision about the dismissal from the case due to the client's waver of counsel and his desire to defend himself on his own - 1 case;
- systematic failure to appear in the court hearings - 1 case.
the failure to appear in the court hearings was referred to the Qualification and Disciplinary Bar Commission. As a result, the lawyer was subjected to disciplinary action in the form of a warning.

MONITORING OF THE COMPLIENCE TO THE STANDARDS BY THE MEANS OF VERIFICATION OF THE INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED BY THE LAWYERS IN THE ACTS OF LEGAL AID PROVISION

In order to verify the accuracy of the information provided by the lawyers, in 2017, inspections were conducted during free secondary legal aid provision in the following cases:

- to persons under the age of 18, suspected or accused of committing a crime: 2862;
- to persons who due to their physical or mental disabilities (dumb, deaf, blind, etc.) can not realise their right of defence on their own: 3720;
- to persons who do not speak the language in which the criminal proceedings are conducted: 1211;
- to persons eligible for free secondary legal aid by a single lawyer during the budget period in a relevant region (or a city of regional significance): 594.

Among the analysed cases, no gross violations of the Standards were found. Lawyers show a high level of professionalism, empathy, demonstrate good preparation for court hearings, are acquainted with case materials and actual changes to the current legislation. Minor violations were present, such as the lack of a protocol of the first visit to a client (Cherkasy district).

SYSTEMISATION OF SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE EXAMPLES, BEST PRACTICES OF LAWYERS’ ACTIVITIES

Quality managers have worked out the following:

- 113 examples of best practices and
- 454 examples of successful defence.
In 2017, the lawyers who provide free secondary legal aid, achieved, in particular, the following results in the interests of their clients:
- verdict of acquital - 157 cases;
- lowering of charges - 478 cases;
- change of a preventive measure from remand to a lesser one - 987 cases;
- closure of criminal proceedings due to an absence of a crime - 159 cases;
- release from serving punishments with a period of probation - 6396 cases;
- appointment of a minimal sanction - 7057 cases.

ANONYMOUS QUESTIONNAIRE FOR CLIENTS AND LAWYERS

Anonymous questionnaires are conducted in order to improve the quality of free secondary legal aid provision and to establish a permanent connection with persons eligible for free secondary legal aid.
In general, 958 questionnaires were sent to clients, 484 of which were received. 3495 questionnaires were sent to lawyers, 1613 of which were received.

SUGGESTIONS AND FEEDBACK FROM THE CLIENTS

- media coverage of the free legal aid provision system’s activities should be increased;
- general trainings for continuous professional development of the legal aid centres’ staff and lawyers should be conducted 2-3 times per year;
- clients survey system on the quality of services provided should be improved.

In general, the majority of respondents are satisfied with the work of the lawyers and have positive impression from the cooperation with the free legal aid system at local and regional levels.

LAWYERS’ SUGGESTIONS

- additional incentive coefficients that would depend on an outcome of a case should be introduced to the remuneration methodology;
- the reporting procedure should be simplified by allowing the online-submission of reporting documents;
- the amount of remuneration to lawyers should be increased;
- an exhaustive list of actions to be performed by a lawyer should be indicated in a mandate;
- the electronic services on the website of the Coordination Centre should be improved;
- an automatic mandate distribution should be implemented;
- the free secondary legal aid provision expenses reimbursement accounting system should be improved;
- the issue of timely remuneration to lawyers should be solveds;
- cascade trainings should be conducted;
- more attention to the psychological state of the client should be paid – a psychologist should be introduced into the centres’ staff;
- a personal lawyer’s electronic cabinet should be created.

Summing up the lawyers’ suggestions, it can be concluded that the most numerous are demands concerning the streamlining of the reporting procedures, making the online reporting possible, higher remuneration and conduction of cascade trainings.


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© 2012 Coordinating Centre for Legal Aid Providing
Development and administration: Serhiy Trotsenko | [email protected] legalaid.gov.ua