Fees for lawyers providing state legal aid to rise by up to 30 percent
The Estonian Ministry of Justice is set to increase the fees paid to lawyers, who provide state legal by almost a third. The current fees have remained at the same level since 2019.
After considering proposals from the Estonian Bar Association (Eesti Advokatuur), the Ministry of Justice has earmarked an additional €1.45 million from its 2023 budget to increase fees for lawyers, who provide state legal aid,
Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) said, that half-hourly fees will increase by up to 30 percent for those providing all forms of state legal aid. A fee will also be set for lawyers, who need to access case files for the first time mid-way through court proceedings. This may be necessary in situations, where there has been a change of lawyer during a case, for instance.
The Ministry of Justice will also introduce fees for lawyers, who present the results of court decisions to minors, as well as those handling cases in which they are required to represent multiple people. The amount reimbursed to lawyers and other legal representatives for the use of their own vehicles in the course of providing state legal aid will increase by 50 percent.
The regulation, which was signed on February 1, will enter into force on the third day after its publication in the State Gazette (Riigi Teataja).
Along with the Estonian Bar Association, the ministry is also assessing possible ways to ensure state legal aid services remain uninterrupted in the event of sudden increases in demand, or when there is a need for a legal representative with a specific skill set or area of expertise, for example in cases involving children.
State legal aid is the provision of legal services to a person at the state's expense.
State legal aid consists of a lawyer appointed by the Estonian Bar Association shall representing an d and providing legal counselling to a person participating in various forms of legal proceedings.
In addition to the provision of state legal aid in connection with proceedings in an Estonian court or administrative authority, Estonian citizens and people staying in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit, also have the right to apply for state legal aid (including assistance with translation) in connection with proceedings regarding civil matters in other EU member state courts the European Court of Human Rights.
State legal aid is necessary to ensure people's rights and interests are not left unprotected solely due to economic constraints.
The provider of state legal aid is paid a fee by the state via the Estonian Bar Association, meaning the recipient of state legal aid is not required to cover the costs. However, state legal aid is not always free of charge and in certain circumstances, recipients may be required to reimburse the state for part, or all, of the costs incurred.
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Editor: Michael Cole