ON LEGAL AID OFFICE
I GENERAL PROVISIONS
(Contents of the Law)
This law shall regulate general jurisdiction and authorizations of the Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter referred to as: the Office), duties and responsibilities of the Director, attorneys, servants and employees, internal organisation and operations, transparency of work, financing and other issues of importance to the functioning of the Office.
(General Jurisdiction and Authorizations)
(1) Legal Aid Office shall be independent body of the Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter referred to as: the District) providing legal aid on the District territory to the citizens at the bottom of income scale in accordance with the law.
(2) The Office shall, within its jurisdiction, enable the District citizens at the bottom of income scale to exercise their rights guaranteed by the BiH Constitution, District Statute, and the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina and District.
(3) Legal aid shall be the form of exercising District citizens’ rights to equal approach to justice and fair trial.
(1) The Office shall perform its function independently from other Governmental bodies and District institutions.
(2) The Office shall be an independent body within the District Judiciary.
(3) No state body or institution shall have the right to influence the work of the Office in any way.
(1) Establishment, organisation, jurisdiction and dissolution of the Office shall be stipulated by the law.
(2) Number of Office attorneys, election and dismissal thereof shall be stipulated i.e. enforced by the Judicial Commission of Brcko District of BiH (hereinafter referred to as: Judicial Commission).
(Name and Seat)
(1) Full name of the Office shall be: Legal Aid Office of the Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
(2) The seat of the Office shall be in Brcko.
The Office shall have the seal in accordance with the Law on Seal of Brcko District of BiH, containing the following text: “Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brcko District of BiH, Legal Aid Office” in round print in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets with the BiH coat of arms imprinted in the centre.
II GENERAL JURISDICTION AND AUTHORIZATIONS
(Jurisdiction of the Office)
The Office shall be responsible for providing legal counsel and representation of Brcko District citizens at bottom of income scale and undertake all actions before the Basic Court of Brcko District of BiH, Appellate Court of Brcko District of BiH and the Prosecutor’s Office of Brcko District of BiH.
(Functions in the Office)
(1) Function in the Office shall be performed by the Director of the Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of BiH (hereinafter referred to as: Director) and attorneys of the Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of BiH (hereinafter referred to as: attorneys).
(2) Office attorneys shall be authorised to perform all duties within the jurisdiction of the Commission unless the law prescribes that those duties be performed by the Director.
(1) The Office shall undertake all actions and participate in all stages of the proceedings until they are effectively concluded.
(2) The Office may not represent more than one client in a case.
(3) The Office shall represent District citizens at bottom of income scale in the following proceedings:
-out of court ,
and other proceedings prescribed by separate laws.
(Types of Legal Aid)
Legal Aid shall be provided as the right to:
-oral advice on all rights and obligations;
-assistance in filling out forms;
-legal assistance in filling out all types of letters;
-representation before an administrative body;
-representation in court;
-legal assistance in the mediation procedure.
(Legal Aid Beneficiary)
Legal aid beneficiary shall be every District citizen whom legal aid is provided to as per criteria on providing legal aid prescribed by this law.
(Prohibition against Discrimination)
Office Director and attorneys shall perform their duties without preconception or prejudice, shall not demonstrate through language or behaviour their preconceptions about or prejudice against race, skin colour, gender, religious confession, ethnic origin, disability, age, marital status, change of marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, sexual orientation or social and economic status.
III LEGAL AID CRITERIA AND REALISATION
(Legal Aid Criteria)
A District citizen shall be entitled to legal aid if he/she has insufficient funds to pay for attorney and representation expenses and meets financial criteria for representation.
Citizens who meet the following criteria shall be entitled to legal aid in accordance with financial criteria:
- a welfare aid beneficiary,
- an unemployed person without other regular income,
- persons at the bottom of income scale,
- children without parental care,
- persons in a bad health condition without income.
(1) Basis for determining entitlements to legal aid for District citizens at the bottom of income scale shall be all allowances and assets not deemed as income for which the applicant and members of his/her family household do not pay tax.
(2) In the process of determining the basis for entitlements to legal aid based on financial criteria, income and assets of members of his/her family household who are the applicant’s counterparty shall not be taken into account.
(3) A person shall not be deemed at bottom of income scale if he/she resides in the common household with an of age member of his/her family who is at the level of income scale which does provide for expenses of attorney services of a person residing with him/her in the common household.
(Liability for Representation in Accordance With International Conventions)
Legal aid shall be provided to persons in accordance with the international conventions binding to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
(Rejecting Entitlement to Legal Aid)
(1) Legal aid shall not be provided to the applicant, or shall be denied:
-in case of unjustified proceedings,
-in case of abuse of entitlements to legal aid,
-in case of conflict of interest.
(2) Legal aid shall be denied to a person whose behaviour is extremely violent, rude and offensive towards an attorney, servant or employee of the Office.
(3) In case criteria stipulated in Paragraphs (1) and (2) are met, Director shall deny entitlement to legal aid by way of decision. The Decision may be appealed with the Judicial Commission.
(Application for Legal Aid)
(1) Application for legal aid shall be filed with the President of the Basic Court of Brcko District BiH along with enclosed evidence of meeting financial criteria required for representation in all proceedings, apart from compulsory defence in criminal proceedings.
(2) Office Director shall decide upon the application for legal aid in the administrative procedure in accordance with financial criteria.
(Decision on Entitlement to Legal Aid)
(1) President of the Basic Court of Brcko District of BiH shall decide upon entitlement to legal aid by way of decision within the shortest possible period of time.
(2) Decision on engaging the Office in representation before the Prosecutor’s Office or Court in criminal proceedings shall be enacted by the President of the Court, Judge or the Panel in accordance with the Law on Criminal Proceedings of Brcko District of BiH and in civil and other proceedings by the President of the Court in accordance with the procedure prescribed by this law or separate regulations.
(3) Applicant shall be entitled to complain to the Judicial Commission against the decision enacted by the President of the Court or Office Director rejecting application for legal aid, within 15 days.
(Covering Expenditures Incurred in Legal Aid Procedure)
(1) Liability of paying for rendered legal aid (court expertise and other real expenditures) shall be applied if in the course or upon conclusion of the procedure it is established that the legal aid beneficiary can afford to pay for representation and that he/she was not entitled to legal aid which was determined ex officio or at the request of an interested party.
(2) President of the Court or Office Director shall put decision on representation out of force.
(Payment Collection Procedure)
(1) When decision on representation is put out of force, the Office shall file request with the President of the Basic Court of Brcko District of BiH for collection of payment for real expenditures incurred in the representation procedure.
(2) President of the Court shall enact decision and commit a party to pay, within 15 days, for real expenditures incurred by the Office in the representation procedure
(3) This decision shall be final.
IV DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF DIRECTOR, ATTORNEYS, SERVANTS AND EMPLOYEES
(1) Director shall maintain integrity, independence and professionalism in the work of the Office.
(2) Director shall issue general instructions to the Office attorneys and orders to servants and employees in the performance of their duties and obligations.
(3) Director shall organise work and ensure that Office employees abide by the law and perform duties conscientiously and free of prejudice.
(Engaging Court Experts)
(1) Director shall enact decision on engaging court experts, court interpreters and other persons whose engagement is required in a case.
(2) Director shall not engage court experts, court interpreters and other persons without need. He/ she shall avoid nepotism and favouritism.
(3) Director shall not approve compensation for appointed court experts, court interpreters and other persons higher than the fair value of services they rendered.
(Duties and Liabilities of Director, Attorneys, Servants and Employees)
(1) Director, attorneys, servants and employees of the Office shall abide by Rulings of the Arbitral Tribunal for the Dispute over the Inter-Entity Boundary in the Brcko area and Supervisory Orders enacted in accordance with them, the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brcko District Statute, the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the laws of Brcko District of BiH and perform duties in the Office impartially and diligently.
(2) Office Director and attorneys shall render legal aid conscientiously, professionally and shall act upon all cases they have been assigned with.
(3) Director, attorneys, servants and employees of the Office shall perform in the manner ensuring confidence of public in the integrity of the Office and avoid misconduct (violation of judicial rules and code of ethics).
(4) Director, attorneys, servants and employees of the Office shall be patient, dignified and polite towards the Court, clients, witnesses, Prosecutors, attorneys and all those they cooperate with.
(Liability for Damage)
(1 In the process of performing duties or representation, District shall be accountable for the damage caused, by illegal and irregular work by Office Director and attorneys, to the person represented by the Office in the course of official duties.
(2) District may request from Office Director and attorneys to compensate for paid damages if the damage was caused deliberately or due to utter negligence.
(3) Reimbursement request shall reach statute of limitations in 6 months from the date of compensation payment.
(Duty of Professional Development)
Director, attorneys, servants and employees of the Office shall undergo professional development in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the Judicial Commission.
Director, attorneys, servants and employees of the Office may not:
-use Office reputation to gain personal interest,
-deliberately give or allow the others to gain impression that any person has a preferential treatment and can influence Office Director, attorney or the outcome of representation,
-voluntarily testify on a person’s character, unless they are witnesses in criminal proceedings in which they or their family members are damaged parties or if a defendant is their family member.
(Duties and Liabilities of the Director and Attorneys in Fulfilling Obligations)
(1) Office Director or attorneys who are in possession of information indicating the probability of another attorney being in breach of the Code of Ethics shall undertake appropriate measures. Office attorney who is aware that another Office attorney is involved in activities which make that Office attorney unsuitable for performing his/her duty, shall inform the Director and Judicial Commission about it. Office attorney who has information which is not confidential and which refers to potential breach of this law by another Office attorney shall reveal this information in full to the Director and Judicial Commission or any other body authorised to conduct investigation or undertake actions regarding the abuse of office. Conduct deemed as unsuitable in work performance shall be:
1. soliciting or accepting money, gifts, services and/or other favours from clients, their relations, friends or any kind of mediators;
2. inappropriate use or the threat of using the position in the way contrary to the interests of the other person with the aim of inducing that person to do a favour for the Office attorney or anyone else, according to his/ her desire, or
3. commission of a crime.
(2) the Office Director or attorneys who have information verifying the probability that the Prosecutor or Judge violated the Code of Ethics shall undertake appropriate measures and inform the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
(Duties and Liabilities of the Director and Attorneys in the Representation Procedure)
(1) Director and attorneys shall perform all duties required in the representation procedure in a lawful manner, professionally and efficiently demonstrating respect for clients with the aim of resolving procedures without unnecessary delays or incurred expenditures.
(2) The attorney shall keep as official secret everything that a client entrusted him/her with, unless he/she is relieved from this commitment with the client’s approval or in cases when the attorney suspects that a serious crime is impending.
(3) The attorney shall inform the client on the case in which he/she is being represented by him/her.
(Representation in Criminal, Civil, Out of Court and Other Proceedings)
(1) Office attorneys when representing a suspect, defendant or are in the capacity of proxies in the proceedings, shall undertake all necessary actions with the aim of establishing facts and collecting evidence relevant for defence or representation.
(2) Obligation shall be terminated when the President of the Court, Judge or the Panel enacts decision on dismissal of the Office attorney.
(Political Associating and Engagement)
(1) Office Director, attorneys, servants and employees may not be members of political parties or support political candidates or political party platforms or in any way be involved in any political activity. They may not be members of steering and other boards.
(2) Office Director, attorneys, servants and employees in their work performance shall not follow instructions given by political organisations and shall in no way encourage other servants and employees during working hours to get involved in the work of a political party or organisation.
(3) Director and attorneys may not:
a) perform function in a political organisation;
b) be candidates at elections for any level of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
c) publicly support or oppose any candidate running for a public function;
d) give speeches on behalf of a political organisation;
e) collect funds for any political organisation or candidate running for a public function;
f) give financial contribution to a political organisation or candidate running for a public function.
(Exemption of the Director and Attorneys in the Representation Procedure)
(1) Office Director or attorney shall request his/her exemption or shall be exempted by the Judge in charge of the case in the following cases:
- if a client is in the procedure;
- if he/she has joint ownership, joint commitment or reimbursement liability to the client in the procedure;
- if he/she has a personal interest in the procedure;
- if he/she a blood relation or in-law relation to any of the clients in the procedure, in particular:
-direct relations in the first line.
-collateral relations to the first degree (brothers and sisters);
- if he/she has or has had a close relationship with one of the clients in the procedure;
- if he/she is or was a foster parent to any of the clients in the procedure;
- if he/she previously participated in a procedure for any client in different capacity other than defence;
- if he/she is a blood relation or married to any person participating in the procedure;
- if he/she was previously associated, in some way, with the case in any other capacity;
(2) Office attorney participating in a case may not be the court expert in that case;
(3) Office Director and attorneys may not be witnesses in the procedure. If it is established that the Office Director or attorneys have relevant information in connection with a specific case, he/she shall be exempted from that case at the personal request, or the Judge in that case shall enact a decision on his/her exemption and he/she shall be instructed to present evidence which he/she has to the newly appointed defence attorney.
(4) If Office Director or attorney learns that he/she is in such situation which entitles clients to request his/her exemption, he/she shall entirely, immediately upon becoming aware of the conflict, present clients with the circumstances. If revealing those circumstances may influence or breach the privilege of confidence in attorney-client relations, those circumstances shall be revealed only to the Judge in charge of the case without obligation to inform any client.
(5) The judge in charge of the case shall decide about the exemption of the Office Director or attorney.
(6) In the situation when his/her performance of duties is called into question, the Judicial Commission shall make a decision.
(7) If the issue of exemption is initiated prior to the commencement of the procedure it shall be instantly resolved by the Office Director.
(Conflict of Interest)
(1) Office Director and attorneys shall not have a private practice of law.
(2) The Judicial Commission shall decide about activities of the Office Director and attorneys related to the conflict of interest in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
(Confidentiality of Work)
All Office employees shall keep as official secrets all pieces of information they obtain in performance of their duties apart from information for which the client gives approval and which are presented in accordance with the law.
(Responsibility for Supervision)
Director shall undertake appropriate measures in order to ensure that all Office employees abide by the rule of law, diligence and professionalism in performance of their duties.
V INTERNAL ORGANISATION AND OPERATIONS
(Management and Competence of the Director and Attorneys)
(1) Director shall represent the Office as an Institution and manage its work.
(2) Office attorneys shall perform duties stipulated by this law and other separate laws and shall report to the Director.
(Criteria for Performance of Duties of Director and Attorneys)
(1) Office Director and attorneys shall be elected and dismissed by the Judicial Commission in accordance with the procedure stipulated in the Law on Judicial Commission of Brcko District of BiH.
(2) A law university graduate who passed the bar exam and has 5 years of working experience as a judge, prosecutor or attorney may serve as a Director.
(3) Director shall be one of the attorneys appointed to the Office with demonstrated management and organisational abilities relevant for the functioning of the Office. Director shall be appointed for a term of office of 4 years and may be re-appointment.
(4) A law university graduate who passed the bar exam and has 3 years of working experience gained after passing the bar exam may serve as an Office attorney.
(5) In case the Office Director is not re-elected, he/she shall remain working as an Office attorney.
(Management in the Director’s Absence)
If Director is absent or unable to manage the Office, he/she shall be deputized by one of the attorneys as stipulated by the Rulebook on Internal Organisation and Operations in the Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of BiH.
(1) Director shall be entitled and have the duty to issue binding instructions to the attorneys, servants and employees regarding their work and in addition to that he/she may do the following:
-undertake all or specific actions of which an Office attorney is in charge,
-assign cases internally and stipulate the manner of work in specific cases.
(2) Director shall give binding working instructions of general nature in accordance with the Rulebook on Internal Organisation of the Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of BiH and the Rules of Operations of the Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of BiH.
(Judicial Clerks and Interns)
The Office may employ a certain number of judicial clerks and interns to assist the Office attorneys in performance of their legal duties.
(1) A law university graduate who passed the bar exam and is a citizen of BiH may serve as a judicial clerk in the Office.
(2) A judicial clerk shall perform legal research, draft letters, submissions and a part of other legal duties supervised by the Office Director.
(1) A law university graduate who is a citizen of BiH and meets general criteria for employment in state bodies may serve as intern in the Office.
(2) Interns shall be enabled to gain necessary practical experience in the legal profession through in-service training in the Office.
(3) Interns shall be employed for a definite term until fulfilling the criteria for taking the bar exam, for 2 years at the longest.
(4) Interns may be assigned to work in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Basic and Appellate Courts for a certain period of his/her work. Training structure, time he/she should spend in certain District Judiciary Institutions, duties to perform shall be prescribed by the Judicial Commission.
(Rulebook on Internal Organisation)
(1) Internal organisation and operations of the Office, number of servants and employees required in performance of daily duties and criteria for performance of those duties shall be regulated by the Rulebook on Internal organisation and Operations.
(2) Rulebook referred to in Paragraph 1 shall be enacted by the Director with the Judicial Commission’s approval.
(Application of Other Regulations)
Provisions of the Law on Servants and Employees in the Brcko District of BiH Judiciary shall regulate a legal and labour status of all employees of the Office if not otherwise regulated by this or other law.
(Immunity of Director and Attorneys)
(1) Office Director and Attorneys shall not be criminally or civilly liable for committed acts, statements and opinions expressed in performance of their duties.
(2) Judicial Commission shall decide on abolition of Director’s and attorneys’ immunity.
(3) Judicial Commission shall enact decision on abolition of immunity of attorneys with the previously obtained opinion form the Director.
(1) The Office shall keep records on all cases it acts upon and records of oral advice.
(2) The manner of keeping all the records in the Office as well as keeping closed cases shall be prescribed by the Rules of Procedure of the Office enacted by the Director with the Judicial Commission’s approval.
VI TRANSPARENCY OF WORK
(Reporting to the Judicial Commission and District Assembly)
(1) The Office shall be responsible for lawful and efficient performance of duties under its competence.
(2) The Office shall submit its work report to the Judicial Commission. Report shall, inter alia, contain: number and type of cases where representation was rendered, number of represented persons, number of concluded cases, number of pending cases, manner of closure of cases and amount of representation expenses.
(3) The Office shall be entitled and have duty to, at its own initiative or request, report to the Brcko District of BiH Assembly (hereinafter referred to as: the Assembly) on its work. Report shall be submitted to the Assembly after being reviewed by the Judicial Commission that will provide assessments, suggestions and proposals about it that do not contest independence of the Office. At the Assembly’s invitation, the Office Director shall explain the report at an Assembly session. Upon discussion of the report the Assembly shall give assessments, suggestions and proposals that do not influence independence of the Office.
(1) District shall provide necessary financial and any other support in order to ensure disrupted and regular Office functioning.
(2) The Office shall have clearly earmarked and presented share of the budget within the District budget.
(Budget Preparation and Execution)
(1) In the prescribed procedure of budget preparation and adoption, Office Director shall comprise the Office budget draft and submit it to the Judicial Commission for the sake of determining the final budget draft of the Office.
(2) Office Director shall be entitled to attend sessions of the District Assembly and relevant bodies (boards, committees etc..) and represent the proposed budget in times of discussion and decide on Office- related budget issues.
(3) Director shall be responsible for execution of the Office budget.
(Salaries and Other Allowances)
Office Director, attorney, servants and employees shall be entitled to have salary and other allowances in accordance with regulations stipulating salaries and allowances of servants and employees in the District Judicial Institutions.
VIII INTERIM AND FINAL PROVISIONS
(Putting out of Force)
The Law on Legal Aid Office of Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“The Official Gazette of Brcko District of BIH”, No. 5/01) of 10 May 2001 shall be put out of force once this law enters into force.
The bylaws required for implementation of this Law shall be passed or the currently existing ones harmonized with this law by the Judicial Commission or the Director within three months from the date this Law enters into force and until that time the currently effective enactments shall be applied provided they are not contrary to this Law.
(Entering into Force)
This law shall enter into force on the eighth (8) day of its publishing in the “Official Gazette of Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.