Resolution on legal aid – Lyon, 2004

1. Access to justice

The access to justice can in particular be guaranteed if there exists qualitative legal aid.

2. The fundamental right

The right to legal aid is a fundamental right which should exist and which should be applied as extensively as possible in every EU country.

3. Standard approach

The right to legal aid should be generalized and standardized in every EU country. This needs to be done in view of the local and particular situation of each EU country.

4. Easy access

The conditions to get access to legal aid need to be simple, in order to make access to legal aid more fluent.

5. Legal aid: for whom and for what?

The system of legal aid needs to be extended to all persons and all legal matters, actions and semi-actions, in the EU, including all forms of alternative dispute resolutions to prevent or resolve conflicts in a reasonable way.

6. Working principle

Requests concerning refusals, assignations and alterations of legal aid are handled by lawyers as individuals, or alternatively – but totally subordinate – by an authority if lawyers make up the biggest part of this authority.

7. Obligation of the authority

It is the authorities and the governments’ duty to inform the public about legal aid.

Important points concerning the obligation of information about legal aid are:

• accessibility to information

• making the information understandable

• aimed at the most socially vulnerable people in our society

8. Rules of conduct

The directives indicate minimum standard rules which make out the basis of the decision to allocate legal aid or not.

The following rules also need to be implemented.

• The assignation needs to be objective, neutral and impartial.

• When assigning legal aid, the beneficiary has free choice of lawyer.

• The authority should have the possibility to supervise the quality of the chosen lawyer.

• In case of emergency, provisional legal aid has to be available for everyone.

• There should be a possibility to appeal, also in case of absence of a decision of the authority.

9. Funding rules

The best legal aid system should have the following rules:

• Each individual should be entitled to it and it should be guaranteed by the government.

• The funding should be enough and sufficient.

• The financial compensation should, in general, almost exclusively come to the lawyers.

• For the administration of the legal aid, there should be a separate, recurring intervention by the government.