The comparative legal study Guaranteeing the Access to and the Quality of Legal Aid in the Pre-trail Phase of Criminal Proceedings shows that with respect to the methods and practices for guaranteeing high quality legal aid there is no clear distinction between the methods used in the guarantee the quality of the legal aid in the pretrial and other phases of the criminal proceedings. In fact, there are hardly any differences on the approaches to the quality of legal aid based on the difference between legal fields, said Martin Gramatikov during a conference on the topic organized by Open Society Institute – Sofia and the National Legal Aid Bureau.
Presenting the main findings of the study, Mr. Gramatikov said that it demonstrates that there are considerable variations in the regulative and practical safeguards of the quality of the publicly funded legal aid. Despite the variations, one can distinguish between three main models:
- Model 1: All qualified attorneys (or mediators) provide publicly funded legal aid on the basis of their legal qualification and Bar membership;
- Модел 2: Model 2: Specialized authority managing the publicly funded legal aid system is registering the legal aid providers on the basis of their legal qualification, Bar membership and sometimes additional criteria;
- Model 3: A hybrid system with elements of contracting out of legal aid services.
Peter Van Den Biggelaar, executive director of the Dutch Legal Aid Board and Simonas Nikartas, PhD, Head of the Criminology Department (Law Institute of Lithuania) spoke about the safeguards of the quality of the legal aid in the pre-trial phase of the criminal proceedings in the different EU countries. Then the project researchers Rada Smedovska – Toneva and Georgi Angelov presented the legal aid quality charters of Belgium and France, as well as the legal aid quality standards of England and Scotland.
Other participants in the conference were Ralitsa Negentsova, Chairperson of the Bulgarian Supreme Bar Council, Vilma Vassileva, Vice President of the National Legal Aid Bureau and associate professor Svetla Margaritova of Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation, practicing lawyers, representatives of public institutions, non-profit associations and researchers.
The conference was organized within the project Improving the Access to Legal Aid in the Pre–trial Phase of Criminal Proceedings in Bulgaria, funded by the Justice Program of the EU (2014 – 2020) and implemented in partnership by the National Legal Aid Bureau and Open Society Institute – Sofia in the period August 2016 and January 2018.