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Principle IV – Access for all persons to lawyers

 

51. Strictly linked to the question of the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer, is the need for lawyers to make their services available to all sectors of the society, and to promote the cause of justice by protecting human, economic, social and cultural, as well as civil and political rights, of individuals (Principle IV). Indeed, equal access to the law for the rich and poor alike is essential to the maintenance of the Rule of Law. It is therefore important to provide effective legal services to all those whose rights and interests are threatened, including persons who are not able to pay for it. The primary obligation to provide these services and to guarantee their quality is the responsibility of the legal profession and arises

from its independence. However, the State (and the community as a whole) has an obligation to assist the legal profession in carrying out this responsibility. Principle IV should be read in the light of the relevant provisions of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and its case-law. Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights “secures to everyone the right to have any claim relating to his civil rights and obligations brought before a court or tribunal” (see the Golder judgment, p. 18, para. 36) and therefore “guarantees to everyone the right to have access to […] justice” (see the Airey judgment). Moreover, as regards more particularly criminal cases, Paragraph 3.c of Article 6 states that "Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights: [...] to defend


himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free, when the interest of justice so require". Governments of member States are required to take account of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and its case-law when providing access for all persons to lawyers in accordance with Principle IV of this Recommendation.

52. The provision of legal services for the poor and disadvantaged does not necessarily include an obligation to represent these persons in court, but refers to the need to educate and counsel them as to their rights, and the ways to defend and secure them (Principles IV.1 and IV.2). One of the means of reaching this goal could be, for instance, for lawyers to be involved in organisations working in poor communities, informing persons about relevant laws and procedures, through which the members of these communities could protect and promote their rights and, where appropriate, ask for the assistance of lawyers.

 

53. The Recommendation further underlines that it is the responsibility of governments to ensure the availability of legal services programmes, where appropriate to ensure effective access to justice. In addition to the contribution of governments, Bar associations or other professional associations of lawyers should endeavour to promote and provide such programmes (Principle IV.3).



 

54. Furthermore, lawyers engaged in legal services for persons in an economically weak position, financed in whole or in part by public funds, should still remain professionally independent (Principle IV.5).

 

55. Finally, it should be noted that the provisions of Principle IV apply to all lawyers within the meaning of this Recommendation and not only to lawyers defending persons who have been charged with a criminal offence.

 


Date: 2015-12-24; view: 645


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