20 May, 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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Bar setting up monthly legal aid booths in courts to assist the public

Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah said everyone should have equal access to justice, regardless of status.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council has designated the first Wednesday of each month to provide legal aid to the public at courthouses across the peninsula, Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah said.

“This is to provide the public access to justice,” she said when launching the council’s Legal Aid Day today.

The event, undertaken in collaboration with the judiciary, the Bar Council National Legal Aid Committee and the National Legal Aid Foundation, was officiated by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat at the Kuala Lumpur court complex.

Elaborating on how legal aid services will be implemented, committee chairman Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said lawyers will be assigned to man booths set up in courts beginning next month.

“Our members will attend to queries from the public, provide advice and, if necessary be, mitigate criminal cases in which an accused pleads guilty,” he told FMT.

Fareed, a former Bar president, said the first of such booths had been set up in the Kuala Lumpur court complex.

“From next month, more booths will be set up in other courts on the peninsula,” he said.

In her speech, Cheah said the importance of legal aid is found in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which states that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

“This applies regardless of a person’s income or resources. Everyone ought to have equal access to justice,” she said.

Cheah will relinquish her post as Bar president on Saturday after having served a two-year term.

She said the council started its first Legal Aid Center in 1980, first in a small village coffee shop and later in a wooden shack in the then fishing village

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Civil legal aid review ‘to report in 2024’ | News

The Ministry of Justice has finally set the ball rolling on its major review of the civil legal aid sector. However, the timetable suggests any measures to save the shrinking sector may not be implemented until late 2024 at the earliest, in the likely run up to the next general election.

Dominic Raab’s department announced today that the review will commission an external economic analysis of the civil legal aid market to better understand how people access funding and support.

The ministry said the review would encompass all categories of civil legal aid provision, with in-depth analysis into areas including family, housing, mental health, education, discrimination and immigration. It will consider the value for taxpayers’ money of future policy options and take into account wider budgetary restraints on the department.

As well as an assessment of how such systems work in other comparable countries, the review will also include publications of further data on how civil legal aid is delivered across England and Wales to help inform future decisions.

The final report will be published in 2024. ‘Once complete, the government can consider options from the review for moving to a more effective, more efficient and more sustainable system for legal providers and the people who rely on legal aid,’ the department said .

However, the Law Society and Bar Council immediately voiced concern about the timetable.

According to government figures, there were 1,363 providers with a civil contract in March 2022. There were 2,134 providers in April 2012 – a year before the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into force. LASPO removed vast areas of law – such as family housing, immigration, employment and welfare benefits – out of scope for legal aid. The LAA has repeatedly had to plug gaps in advice

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