Legal aid in Finland

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Legal aid in Finland
Merja Muilu
Ministry of Justice
1
Coverage of legal aid
Legal aid is provided to any person whose matter is to be
heard before a Finnish court or if there are special
reasons for legal aid to be provided
• Legal aid covers the services of the attorney up to 80 hours,
unless the court for special reasons decides to extend it
Legal aid is not given
• if the person has legal expenses insurance that covers the
matter in question
• to companies or corporations
• if the matter is of little importance to the applicant
• if legal aid would be clearly pointless
2
Means-testing and
cost for the client
• Legal aid is granted on the basis of the applicant’s
income, expenditures and maintenance liability –
available means per month. These determine
whether the applicant is given legal aid
• for free or
• against a deductible, which is 20%, 30%, 40%,
55% or 75% of the attorney’s bill.
• A legal aid charge is 70 €. It is not collected if the
applicant gets legal aid for free
3
Who can provide legal aid ?
• In court cases the applicant has a choice of attorneys,
between
- a public legal aid attorney
who works at the state legal aid office
- a private attorney,
who is an advocate or a licensed attorney
• In other matters legal aid is given by public legal aid
attorneys
4
Funds and fee system
• 2014 State budget 65,5 million euros (civil and criminal)
• The fee is 110 € per hour
(in criminal cases there are some fixed minimum fees)
• A court decides the fee and compensation for expenses
to a private attorney case per case.
• Process is electronical.
• The public legal aid attorneys have salary
5
Applying and granting L.A.
• The state legal aid offices grant legal aid
• Appealing: if the legal aid office considers that there is no
reason for self-rectification, it forwards the submission to the
court for a decision.
• From 2010 it has been possible to apply legal aid
electronically.
• 88 % of applications done by private attorneys were
electronical 2013.
• Few applications done by applicants were electronical
6
Challenges – answers?
• State budget is decreasing – how to save money, meet the
needs and keep the quality of legal aid sufficient?
• The private attorneys are unsatisfied with the legal aid fee.
Are they willing to take legal aid cases in the future?
• There is a regional worry is that legal aid services will be too
far away from some people. Journeys to legal aid offices
have become longer. Also the number of private attorneys is
assessed to be decreasing in the sparsely populated areas.
• Part of solution can be providing legal aid as remote service.
Also telephone/video counselling, the electronic application
process and appointment system will make the service more
effective and flexible
• Providing legal aid in web?
7
Statistics 2013
• State legal aid offices had 44 724 matters.
• 84% pertained to civil law or administrative law
• 69 % of all clients received legal aid for free, 24 %
against a deductible
• Private attorneys had 22 233 cases
• 18 % pertained to civil or administrative law
• 90 % of all clients received legal aid for free and 10 %
against a deductible
8
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