Deputy Minister of Justice Valeria Kolomiiets told about the main achievements during 100 days of the Government's activities in the field of legal assistance. In particular, she noted that there had been launched the simplifying of access to social services of free representation in court for the socially vulnerable categories of citizens. Subsequently, the transfer of information from state bodies to the centers of free legal assistance (FLA) provisions will be conducted without the participation of citizens.
This innovation is envisaged by the draft Law of Ukraine On Amendments to Article 17 of the Law of Ukraine "On Collection and Accounting of the Single Contribution to Compulsory State Social Insurance" on the provision of information from the State Register of compulsory state social insurance to Centers for the provision of secondary legal assistance which has already been registered with the Verkhovna Rada under No. 2479.
"In order to get such free legal assistance as representation in court, you had to go through a series of procedures: go to government agencies and collect documents confirming your right to receive such assistance, and then submit the collected information to your local secondary legal assistance center, or legal assistance bureaus so that they could make the final decisions about assigning you a counsel. It takes a lot of effort and time. Once the law is adopted, information will be transferred between state bodies and institutions automatically without the client's participation," said Valeria Kolomiiets.
Moreover, she told that the work of lawyers within the FLA provision system had been improved, for whom the list of grounds for reimbursement of the costs for providing free legal aid has been expanded.
Meanwhile, a draft law has been developed that will introduce a binding mechanism for assessing the quality of legal aid provided through the peer review tool. This tool is currently being successfully piloted by the legal aid system. Hence, 12 such peer reviews have already been conducted.
"The initial evaluation stage, which has been launched, covers the examination of the quality of the provision of free primary legal aid in civil and administrative cases. The results of the evaluation, as well as the recommendations that have already been developed to improve the quality of legal aid, are communicated to the employees within the system and used to improve their skills. The second stage, which has recently been introduced, concerns the verification of the quality of secondary legal aid provided by the lawyers within the FLA system. Finally, the third phase, which is to be launched shortly, is the peer review mechanism for lawyers. I assure due to such evaluation the quality of FLA provision will improve severalfold. People will receive high-quality legal assistance," Valeria Kolomiiets noted.
In addition, work has begun on creating a mobile legal aid system application. "Applying for legal aid online, tracking the progress of their consideration, and getting legal advice in real time will allow to make legal assistance services convenient and accessible at most," said the Deputy Minister.
"We have also taken initial steps towards launching the Ukrainian School of Practical Knowledge in Access to Justice - a platform where human rights organizations are consolidating efforts to strengthen the legal capacity of communities, develop innovative solutions in the area of access to justice, and will develop the ability to jointly find effective solutions to ensure the improvement of FLA systems," summed up the official.