World-class legal aid experts share knowledge at conference in Vilnius

27 June. An international conference organised by the Lithuanian Law Institute "Facing Directive 2016/1919: A New Era of Legal Aid" took place at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Justice on June 28, 2016. The conference featured presentations by some of the most prominent legal aid experts, and there was no lack of participants despite the summer weather.

Barbel Heinkelmann from the European Commission shared her experience at the conference and gave an overview of the discussions that took place during the preparation of the Legal Aid Directive, the essence of the Directive and the progress of its implementation in Member States. Miri Sharon, an expert from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), presented the newly published UNODC “Handbook on Ensuring Quality of Legal Aid Services in Criminal Justice Processes: Practical Guidance and Promising Practices”, which she was involved in preparing. Alan Paterson, who also contributed to the Handbook, made a presentation. The professor presented the peer review process and its advantages. In addition, Prof. Dr Anette Storgaard from Aarhus University discussed aspects of legal aid relevant to convicted persons and stressed the importance of protecting their rights.

The conference also focused on the experiences of specific countries in implementing the Legal Aid Directive. Prof. Dr. Richard Soyer from Austria gave an overview of the Austrian experience and position, Dr. Ivanka Ivanova presented the situation in Bulgaria, and Dr. Vaida Rudėnaitė, Senior Specialist of the Legal Aid Division of the Department of Legal Institutions, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, presented the Lithuanian experience and the regulatory innovations.

The conference also featured presentations by two researchers from the Lithuanian Law Institute, Dr Agnė Limantė and Dr Simonas Nikartas, who also chaired the event.

The participants were welcomed by Judge Danutė Jočienė of the Constitutional Court, the Director of the Lithuanian Law Institute, representatives of the Lithuanian Lawyers' Council and the State Guaranteed Legal Aid Service.

The following presentations were made at the conference:

Right to legal aid in the international and EU law: towards the quality of legal aid
Agnė Limantė, Law Institute of Lithuania

EU Directive 2016/1919 and its implementation in Member States
Barbel Heinkelmann, European Commission

UNODC Handbook on Ensuring Quality of Legal Aid Services in Criminal Justice Processes
Miri Sharon, UNODC consultant

Presentation of the results of the Project “Enhancing the Quality of Legal Aid: General Standards for Different Countries” (QUAL-AID)
Simonas Nikartas, Law Institute of Lithuania

Quality Assurance and Peer review
Prof. Dr. Alan Paterson, Strathclyde University’s Law School

Access to Justice and Legal Aid in the perspective of convicted persons
Prof. Dr. Anette Storgaard, Aarhus University

Implementation of Directive 2016/1919 in Austria
Prof. Dr. Richard Soyer, Johannes Kepler University Linz

Implementation of Directive 2016/1919 in Bulgaria
Ivanka Ivanova, Open Society Institute (Bulgaria)

Implementation of Directive 2016/1919 in Lithuania
Vaida Rudėnaitė, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania

The organisers of this conference: Law Institute of Lithuania; University of Verona and University of Milano Bicocca (Italy); University of Minho (Portugal); Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary).