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Last update: 17-08-2007
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Legal aid - Latvia

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What is legal aid? 1.
2. How can I benefit from legal aid? 2.
3. Can legal aid be obtained for all disputes? 3.
4. Is there a specific procedure for emergencies? 4.
5. Where can I obtain an application form for legal aid? 5.
6. Which documents should I attach to my request for legal aid? 6.
7. Where should I register my request for legal aid? 7.
8. How will I be informed of whether or not I am eligible for legal aid? 8.
9. If I qualify for legal aid, what should I do? 9.
10. If I qualify for legal aid, who will choose my lawyer? 10.
11. If I qualify for legal aid, will this cover all the costs of my trial? 11.
12. If I qualify for partial legal aid, who will pay the other costs? 12.
13. If I qualify for legal aid, will it cover any review I might make following the trial? 13.
14. If I qualify for legal aid, can it be withdrawn before the end of the trial (or even after the trial)? 14.
15. If I do not qualify for legal aid, can I appeal against this decision? 15.

 

1. What is legal aid?

The purpose of the Act on State Legal Aid is to facilitate natural persons’ rights to equitable legal defence by providing State guaranteed financial assistance for the receipt of legal aid. Legal aid is quantified in terms of hours and specific activities – consultations, preparation of documents and representation in court.

The procedures for granting State legal aid are laid down in the Act on State Legal Aid, Cabinet Regulation No 920 of 6 November 2006 on forms of legal aid, the maximum number of hours, payment rates and procedures, and Cabinet Regulation No 558 of 4 July 2006 on persons' eligibility for State legal aid in view of their personal circumstances, proprietorial status and level of income.

The State can provide legal aid free of charge in civil, administrative and criminal cases.

2. How can I benefit from legal aid?

Financial aid guaranteed by the State helps persons to take full advantage of their rights in legal disputes.

The State can provide for and pay expenses for legal aid on a case-by-case basis to cover the following:

  • up to three hours of consultations;
  • preparation of up to three procedural documents;
  • representation in court not exceeding 40 hours.

The State does not cover court costs payable by a person under a court ruling.

3. Can legal aid be obtained for all disputes?

The Legal Aid Administration adopts decisions on the granting of legal aid in civil and administrative cases – and in criminal cases in respect of the victim –  on the basis of a person's application for State legal aid. A person suspected, accused or arrested as part of a criminal case can claim legal representation payable by the Legal Aid Administration by applying to the authority conducting the proceedings (the police, the court or the public prosecutor).

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4. Is there a specific procedure for emergencies?

Where possible a decision to grant or refuse State legal aid is taken within two weeks of the date on which an application for State legal aid is received, taking into account any urgent circumstances indicated by the applicant, on the basis of which the Legal Aid Administration assigns a person to provide legal aid.

5. Where can I obtain an application form for legal aid?

Application forms for State legal aid can be obtained in person at the offices of the Legal Aid Administration at Brīvības gatve 214, Riga, or via the Legal Aid Administration's website www.jpa.gov.lv latviešu valoda, or at the offices of the local authority in whose administrative area the applicant lives or is legally residing.

6. Which documents should I attach to my request for legal aid?

A legal aid applicant must submit a completed legal aid application form together with copies of documents certifying the information provided on the form (documents confirming the applicant's income and information relating to the nature of the dispute and its progress).

7. Where should I register my request for legal aid?

To receive State legal aid an applicant must complete a State legal aid application form and submit this to the Legal Aid Administration in person or by post.

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8. How will I be informed of whether or not I am eligible for legal aid?

The Legal Aid Administration decides whether or not to grant State legal aid on the basis of its assessment of a person's application for State legal aid. Decisions are notified by letter sent to the address provided by the applicant or handed to the applicant in person.

9. If I qualify for legal aid, what should I do?

Following a decision to grant State legal aid a legal aid provider is assigned and the applicant is sent a letter notifying the fact that a decision has been reached, setting out the scope of the legal aid granted and giving the full name of the legal aid provider, their office address, and the time and date of the first appointment. To receive legal aid the applicant must keep the appointment with the assigned legal aid provider as indicated in the notification letter.

10. If I qualify for legal aid, who will choose my lawyer?

To ensure the provision of legal aid the Legal Aid Administration concludes contracts with persons qualified to provide legal aid. Following a decision to grant legal aid Legal Aid administration officials contact a legal aid provider and arrange for the provision of legal aid in the case in question.

11. If I qualify for legal aid, will this cover all the costs of my trial?

The form and extent of legal aid in Latvia is laid down under the Act on State Legal Aid, and Cabinet Regulation No 920 of 6 November 2006 on forms of legal aid, the maximum number of hours, payment rates and procedures.

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The State provides for and pays the costs of legal aid to cover the following in each administrative or civil case, or criminal case in respect of the victim:

  1. up to three hours of consultations;
  2. preparation of up to three procedural documents;
  3. representation in court not exceeding 40 hours.

In cross-border civil disputes in addition to the above benefits an applicant is also entitled to the services of an interpreter and to receive translations of any documents required for adjudication of the case as requested by the court or a competent authority and submitted by the legal aid beneficiary; in such disputes legal aid also covers costs associated with court appearances where the person's presence in court is required under legislation or is requested by the court where it has been decided that the person's testimony cannot be heard in any other way.

In criminal proceedings the State provides legal aid for pre-trial proceedings and in court where requested by the authority conducting the case.

The State does not cover court costs payable by a person under a court ruling.

12. If I qualify for partial legal aid, who will pay the other costs?

Partial legal aid is not available in Latvia. Legal aid is either granted in full or refused.

13. If I qualify for legal aid, will it cover any review I might make following the trial?

Pursuant to the Act on State Legal Aid legal aid is provided in all three court instances – in district (municipal) courts as courts of first instance, in regional courts as courts of appeal, and in the Supreme Court as a court of cassation to the degree provided for under the Act on State Legal Aid and Cabinet Regulation No 920 of 6 November 2006 on forms of legal aid, the maximum number of hours, payment rates and procedures (see question 2).

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Pursuant to Section 27 of the Act on State Legal Aid a person cannot make a second application for legal aid in a case concerning the same subject and on the same basis if the Regional Administrative Court has dismissed the previous claim. A repeat application for legal aid in respect of a case concerning the same subject and on the same basis is permissible only where the claimant's personal circumstances, proprietorial status or level of income have changed to a significant degree. If it is ascertained that an application for legal aid is being made in respect of a case concerning the same subject and on the same basis the Legal Aid administration will not assess the application and will return it to the applicant.

14. If I qualify for legal aid, can it be withdrawn before the end of the trial (or even after the trial)?

The provision of State legal aid can be discontinued if the circumstances of the case, rulings made in the case or any statements by the legal aid provider indicate that there are no further grounds for continuing the case and the provision of legal aid serves no useful purpose.

15. If I do not qualify for legal aid, can I appeal against this decision?

An appeal against a decision by the Legal Aid Administration to grant or refuse State legal aid can be brought by the applicant before the State Secretary to the Ministry of Justice within one month of its entry into force by submitting a claim to the Ministry of Justice. A decision by the Ministry of Justice can be appealed against within one month of its entry into force by submitting a claim to the Administrative Regional Court. It is not possible to appeal against a decision by the Administrative Regional Court.

« Legal aid - General information | Latvia - General information »

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Last update: 17-08-2007

 
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