What is legal aid?
Legal aid enables you to efficiently protect your human rights that have been violated. It also provides you with access to courts or to other state organs under conditions of equality and witout discrimination. Discrimination includes inequal treatment, unjustified distinction-making, namely puting someone i a better/worse situation by virtue of his/her personal characteristics. The state has an obligation to secure legal aid to you when you do not have the means to afford the costs of justice.
Who is entitled to legal aid?
Pursuant to Article 32 of the 2006 Serbian Constitution, the right to legal aid is guaranteed to all in accordance with the law. This means that Serbian citizens have the right to free legal aid, but foreigners and stateless persons too under specific conditions (generally a poor financial situation). The aim of legal aid is to guarantee an equal access to justice to all, regardless of one’s ability of inability to afford a lawer.
What is free legal aid?
Free legal aid is legal aid for which you do not pay (partially or totally) due to your insufficient financial situation. The exemption from paying costs is regulated by several laws in force in the Republic of Serbia. The Law on Civil Procedure provides that persons who are parties to a civil procedure and who are unable to bear the costs of procedure due to their financial situation may be exempted partially or totally from this obligation. Free legal aid is particularly important in cases of criminal procedure when a legal counsel is assigned ex officio, under specific circumstances, to a defendant who lacks the financial resources to afford his/her defence. Moreover, the Law on General Administrative Procedure provides for the possibility of exemption from costs for a party to an administrative procedure in case he/she is indigent.
FREE LEGAL AID PROVIDED BY THE LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
How to receive free legal aid provided by the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM?
a) By electronic post:
The quickest and easiest way to contact YUCOM’s legal team is to send us the completed application form by email at:firstname.lastname@example.org
You may download the application form here:
Legal aid form
b) By regular mail:
You can send the completed application form by post to our office at the following address:
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM
c) By Phone:
You can also contact us by telephone 0700/ 400-700 between 11.00 and 16.00, Monday to Friday. Calls made from Serbia are billed like local calls.
What are the next steps?
A member from YUCOM’s legal team will hear your case or get acquainted with your request by alternative means, i.e. via the application form.
YUCOM’s legal team will use its database on all legal aid providers to direct you towards the most adequate legal aid providers, namely those that are closest to you geographically or that are most expert for your case.
After examination of the allegations presented in the form, if the decision is made to work on the case which must be related to one of YUCOM’s areas of activity, you may be requested to submit information supporting your allegations.
One of our legalists can advise you how to exercise your rights, generally by explaining you about the content your claim should have, and by submitting the form that can help you in relation to your specific case.
In sensitive cases (cases of discrimination, cases related to the rights of vulnerable groups, cases involving disregard of your requests and rights by state institutions), YUCOM will submit the claim in your name.
How we can help you
By providing legal advice;
• By providing assistance in drafting legal submissions (in cases of litigations before Basic Courts and High Courts, excluding cases of litigation before commercial courts);
• By representing parties before Serbian Courts in cases that are deemed by our legal team to involve violations of human rights and to be strategic cases; and
• By representing parties before the Constitutional Court of Serbia and the European Court of Human Rights in cases regarded by our legal team as strategic cases.
YUCOM’s legal team made two publications on free legal aid in Serbia.
1. Manual for citizens: “Justice for all. How to get free legal aid in Serbia?”
„Pravda za sve. Kako do besplatne pravne pomoći u Srbiji? Priručnik za građane„
2. Publication on Free legal system in Serbia: “Access to Justice and Free legal system in Serbia – challenges and reform”
„Pristup pravdi i besplatna pravna pomoć u srbiji izazovi i reforme“
These 2 publications are available just in Serbian language.
You may also watch a few videos about our legal team’s work that are available at these links:
Also, our legal team made a number of newsletters that you can download: