14 Apr, 2024
2 mins read

Bar Council of Bhutan encourages Pro Bono legal aid for the vulnerable

The Bar Council of Bhutan is urging its members to provide free legal services, more often, to the marginalized and vulnerable population. This was discussed during the Bar Council’s first annual general meeting in Paro, today. Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck graced the opening of the three-day event. The United Nations Development Fund is supporting the meeting.

One of the primary objectives of the general meeting is to advocate for Bar Council members of the significance of pro bono services, especially for the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

According to the Bar Council’s vice president, pro bono legal advice and representation enhances access to justice for all.

“In these three days, we are bringing together the bar and bench, which is the core justice service provider to work on how to improve the accessibility to the justice system in the country. This is why the first annual general meeting of the Bar Council is being held,” said Rinzin Penjor, vice president of the Bar Council of Bhutan.

Legal representatives and firms that provided pro bono services to clients were recognized during the meeting. The Latin phrase “pro bono” refers to legal services provided to a client without fee.

Records show that the Bar Council received 85 cases requesting pro bono legal aid. After review by the National Legal Aid Centre, 16 of the total requests were provided pro bono legal aid.

The records date back to October 2022, when the Bhutan National Legal Aid Center was established. There are 300 attorneys registered with the Bar Council of Bhutan.

“Before the cases arrive at the Bar Council of Bhutan, it has to undergo scrutiny from the Bhutan National Legal Aid Center to see if they merit pro bono services. Only people who meet certain criteria are sent to the Bar

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Legal aid booths to be opened in courts across the peninsula

KUALA LUMPUR: Legal aid booths will be opened next month for the public at court premises across Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn said the booth, to operate on the first Wednesday of every month, also ensures that impecunious persons receive legal advice and representation.

She said there are now 14 legal aid centers in Peninsular Malaysia, catering to every state, and they have assisted more than 124,000 people over the past decade.

“Interestingly, if we assume that professional fees were at a nominal rate of RM1,000 per file, our volunteer members would have provided legal services valued at RM120 million in the last decade. The KL legal aid center alone assisted over 2,700 foreigners in 2023 .

“At this point, I would like to mention another initiative by our National Legal Aid & YBGK Committee—each and every member of the Bar Council, including its office bearers, has pledged their commitment to handling one legal aid case in a year, volunteering to be on duty at a legal aid center, or participate in legal awareness or outreach programs organized by State Legal Aid Centres,” she said.

She said this on Monday (March 11) at the launch of ‘Guaman Majlis Peguam Assistance Day’ at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex here, which Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat officiated.

Cheah further said that it is priceless when people are offered assistance expecting nothing in return, adding that she believes such assistance has the potential for great impact, affecting legal aid recipients, their family members, and possibly even future generations.

Touching on the background of the legal aid centre, Cheah said the Bar Council started its first center in 1980, first in a small village coffee shop and later in a wooden shack in the then-fishing village of Bayan

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