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MDTF Activities > I Retreat of the Working group for drafting the Law on Free Legal Aid

I Retreat of the Working group for drafting the Law on Free Legal Aid

Dates: 30.08. 2011 – 02.09. 2011

Venue: Vršac (Villa Breg)

Participants

Working group members

  1. Vojkan Simić Assistant Minister of Justice – Chairman of the FLA WG
  2. Jelena Stevanović Judge, Court of 1st Instance(WGM)
  3. Srbijanka Arsenovski Ministry of Justice (WGM)
  4. Smilja Rakulj Ministry for human and minority rights, state administration and local government (WGM)
  5. Stevan Arambašić Deputy Ombudsman AP Vojvodina (WGM)
  6. Dragi Krstić Lawyer, Bar Association, Nis (WGM)
  7. Biljana Bjeletić Lawyer, Bar Association, Vojvodina (WGM)
  8. Blažo Nedić Lawyer, Bar Association, Belgrade (WGM)
  9. dr. Nikola Bodiroga Professor, Law University, Belgrade (WGM)
  10. Milica Sandić Deputy Prosecutor, Belgrade (WGM)
  11. Vojka Janjić Ministry of Justice, WG secretary (WGM)
  12. Mirjana Bajagić Directot, Birou FLA in Novi Sad (WGM)
  13. Ana Milošević Judge, Court of 1st Instance (WGM)
Consultants
 
  1. Bojana Šolević Expert for Access to Justice – MDTF Consultants - PIU
  2. Darja Koturović Consultant for Access to Justice – MDTF Consultants - PIU
  3. Ivana Krstić Professor, Law University, Belgrade and WB Consultant
  4. John Furnari Senior Justice Sector Specialist - WB

August 30

The working group was divided into two mini-groups according to the subjects:

  • The task of the first group was to discuss and prepare comments on the draft law regarding the FLA beneficiaries and FLA providers
  • The tasks of the second group were to discuss and prepare comments on the forms of FLA (primary/secondary) and the procedure.
Considering the variety of opinions, all the participants were encouraged to propose their own views and arguments regarding specific issues. Each comment was entered into the report in order to be discussed with the whole group the next day. One of the key issues was associated with the variety of terms used in the draft law to describe individuals seeking FLA. Another important topic was associated with FLA providers, due to opposite opinions related to the provision of FLA by non-governmental organizations and legal clinics as potential providers. Moreover, distinction between primary and secondary forms of FLA was one of the key concerns among the second group.
 
August 31
 
During the morning session, both groups continued the discussion. Additional comments were included; a number of new articles of the law were suggested and we have agreed upon key topics to be discussed in the afternoon. Following lunch break, the work on the draft law continued, including all the members of the working group. The two separate groups presented their views and suggestions and each member was able to discuss different options and ideas. Overall, both groups were attempting to reach an agreement regarding FLA providers (whether NGOs and legal clinics should be included and in what way) and FLA forms (what would specifically be included into the primary and secondary legal aid). As these matters are closely interrelated, the discussion among all the members was very useful, since none of the groups could have reached final conclusion separately. Following the discussion, an overall agreement on the FLA providers was reached, on the basis of a more broad interpretation of the Constitution. It was agreed to continue the next day discussion on the specific procedure and conditions related to FLA.
 
September 01
 
Both the morning and the afternoon session included all the members of the working group. The procedure for obtaining FLA was discussed and there were several suggestions to simplify the existing process. Furthermore, having in mind the future study visit in the Netherlands, their experience in providing FLA may be included later on in order to determine more cost-effective solutions. A number of additional matters were discussed, such as personal data protection (in terms of checking individuals’ financial conditions), criminal justice specificities, and recent economic indicators in Serbia etc. Towards the end of the working day, several chapters of the draft law were reviewed and all the comments and proposals were included in the report. We have agreed that the MDTF Consultants will prepare the new version for all the members in order to allow them to reconsider certain issues and offer additional comments. Moreover, new tasks were given to the group members for the next meeting on 16.09.2011.
 
September 02
 
In the morning session, we went through the main changes and suggestions and made final conclusions. It was decided to continue with an additional chapter of the law in order to be prepared for the future meeting (structure of the future FLA system, financing, quality control, etc). Additional material was discussed, as well as certain related laws i.e. Code of Civil Procedure that might have an impact on the future FLA law.
 
Chairman of the FLA WG scheduled the following two retreats for October 05/07 and October 24/26, 2011.