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FREE LEGAL AID IN SPAIN

Introduction to the free legal aid concept

Article 24[1] of the Spanish Constitution provides that every person has the right to effective protection by the judges and the courts and the right to be assisted and defended by a lawyer in order to avoid that anyone can go undefended.

Therefore, we can say that the free legal aid provided in the Constitution is a consequence of the need of protection of that fundamental right.

The free legal aid does not include just free lawyer assistance but also other benefits like representation by a Procurator if necessary, advisement, legal assistance to detainees, free legal publications,  exemption from the payment of court fees as well as free expert assistance inter alia.

Requirements

The free legal aid is aimed at people who are in a bad economic situation and do not have the resources needed to be able to litigate with the purpose of protecting their rights.

Therefore, the essential requirement that must meet the natural persons is that their resources and incomes cannot be higher than the following thresholds established in article 3 of the Free Legal Aid Law:

  • Twice the IPREM (the reference indicator fordetermining social benefits) prevailing at the time of the request, when it comes to people in no family unit. For instance, by 2018, the IPREM was € 6.454,03 per year. The threshold  which cannot be exceeded in this case was € 12.908,06 per year.
  • Two and half times the current IPREM when it comes to people that are included in a family unit with less than four members. Being in this case the maximum yearly rent € 16.135,075.
  • Three times the IPREM, in case of family units with four or more members. In 2017 was € 19.362,09.

In order to confirm that you observe the requirements, you can ask for information in the closest Bar Association, you can look for the location using the following link:

http://www.justiciagratuita.es/publico/donde-solicitarlo/

Or you can check it easily through the following link:

https://www.justiciagratuita.es/publico/tengo-derecho/

It is not necessary to satisfy the previous requirements if you find yourself in one of the following situations[2]:

  • Victims of gender-based violence, terrorism or victims of human trafficking in relating processes.
  • Minors or mentally handicapped people in situations of abuse.
  • People with proved permanent consequences caused by an accident that impede their work and make them need the help of people around them for essential life activities when claiming damage compensation.

Procedure

It is necessary to fill in an application that you can download in one of the official Webpages of the Bar Association of your province/town or ask for it directly in the Bar Association.

In the application you will be asked for the following information:

  • The personal data of the declarant and the members of the family unit.
  • Economic data of the family unit.
  • Records of the claim.
  • Submitted documents.
  • Benefit that you request.

The application must be delivered to the Bar Association of the place where is being hold the court that has to know about the subject. In order to deliver the application is always better to ask for an appointment.

For instance, if the claim will be known by the Court of Alicante you can access the following link of the Bar Association of Alicante (Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Alicante) and ask for an appointment and download the application form:

http://www.icali.es/PORTAL_ICALI/printPortal.do?urlPagina=S005017012/es_ES.html

 

Is it better to use a public defender rather than a private lawyer?

Some people think that the use of the services of a public defender can be harmful, but it is just a way to ensure the effective protection of our rights and, for this reason, the lawyers who provide that service must fulfil conditions to make sure that they are capable.

As a consequence, the public defender is a professional that has to satisfy the following standards:

  • Have a degree in law.
  • Finish the Access Course to become a Public Defender in the School of Juridical Practices or to hold a recognized equivalent diploma.
  • Minimum experienceof 3 years of professional practice.
  • Live and have an open office in the area of the Bar Association in which the professional is registered.

In addition to these conditions, we must mention that these are specialized lawyers in a maximum of two different areas. Therefore, they offer the service that best suits the problem in question.

Conclusions

Through the free legal aid the government is trying to ensure that individuals with insufficient financial resources have access to justice, do not feel themselves discriminated against in their rights and get the best service possible provided by good professionals specially prepared for that job.

The Lex Dixit team has true professionals who provide qualified legal protection, regardless of the nationality or social status of the client. Oleksandr Predytkevych Predytkevych, partner of Lex Dixit, also acts as a court appointed lawyer within the free legal aid Spanish system, which is accredited in the following certificates:

Escuela de practica jurídica Alicante

Certificado Turno de Oficio

[1]Article 24.

  1. Every person has the right to obtain the effective protection of the Judges and the Courts in the exercise of his or her legitimate rights and interests, and in no case may he go undefended.
  2. Likewise, all persons have the right of access to the ordinary judge predetermined by law; to the defence and assistance of a lawyer; to be informed of the charges brought against them; to a public trial without undue delays and with full guarantees; to the use of evidence appropriate to their defence; to not make self-incriminating statements; to not declare themselves guilty; and to be presumed innocent. The law shall determine the cases in which, for reasons of family relationship or professional secrecy, it shall not be compulsory to make statements regarding alleged criminal offences.

[2]Article 2 of the Free Legal Aid Law number 1/1996 of 10th of January