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2020 / 10 / 05

The New Monograph Outlines Directions for the Effective Implementation of the Legal Aid


In recent years, researchers from the Law Institute of Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as the Institute), along with their colleagues in Lithuania and abroad directed special attention to the analysis of the effectiveness of the legal aid. Between 2017 and 2019, the project “Enhancing the Quality of Legal Aid: General Standards for Different Countries” (QUAL-AID) co-financed by the European Commission was implemented together with the colleagues from Germany and the Netherlands, thus two international conferences were held in Vilnius and national training courses for lawyers were organised. Based on the research carried out, the Institute’s researchers made various presentations not only in Lithuania, but also in the meetings organised by the European Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, furthermore several publications were published. We are especially pleased to present now the comprehensive monograph “Towards Effective Legal Aid: International Legal and Practical Standards”, which summarises the scientific research accomplished and provides guidelines for the implementation of the effective legal aid. The publication was prepared jointly by the team of the Institute (Dr. Simonas Nikartas, Dr. Agnė Limantė and Ph.D. fellow Laurynas Totoraitis), as well as Prof. Dr. Danutė Jočienė, who is a member of the Institute of International and European Union Law belonging to the Law School of Mykolas Romeris University and the current judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania.

In the 21st century, where the right to free legal aid is widely and generally recognised - some questions relating to the quality of these services are raised increasingly. It is emphasised both in international instruments and in doctrine. Regretfully, according to the authors of the publication, the existing works of the Lithuanian researchers have so far been focused only on the individual aspects of this issue. “Taking into account the need to ensure the high‑quality of legal aid, and based on the research conducted by our researchers in recent years, the monograph aims primarily to clarify the essential elements and denominators related to the quality of legal aid,” said Dr. Agnė Limantė, one of the authors and scientific editors of the publication.

Although the international instruments focus on the quality of legal aid, they do not provide for any more detailed guidelines or proposals, therefor this question is left to national law. “We hope that our monograph prepared will proof to be useful for Lithuania aiming to improve its system of the state-guaranteed legal aid, and to increase the competence of those lawyers who provide the aforementioned aid. Last but not least it will enable it to improve its procedures related to providing the state-guaranteed legal aid service and to quality assessment,” expressed his aspirations Dr. Simonas Nikartas, the co-author and scientific editor of the monograph.

The monograph consists of four chapters. The first chapter provides an overview of the right to legal aid, its quality and its evaluation in international and other regional documents, including those of the Council of Europe and the European Union. It also aims to show how it has been historically established and since what moment the attention has been drawn to the quality of these services. The second chapter of the monograph examines the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. In the decisions of this court, different requirements for the quality of legal aid are identified and then the common denominators which unite them are explored. The third chapter discusses what elements comprise the quality of legal aid and identifies practical quality standards for these services, using national good practise examples and the current research carried out by the authors. The fourth chapter of the monograph is devoted to various aspects of assessing the quality of legal aid.

The full text of the monograph is available here.