National Legal Aid Bureau Bulgaria

By 23 november 2022 No Comments

The national language version of this page is managed by the Member State concerned. The translations were carried out by the European Commission. Any changes made to the original by the competent national authority may not yet be reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility for any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please note the copyright regulations of the Member State responsible for this site. “Thanks to the information citizens receive through our new services, their knowledge and understanding of their rights has improved. This has led to a reduction in the number of unfounded cases brought before the courts, which helps to make the legal system more efficient,” concludes Cherneva. “Access to free legal advice has become increasingly important in Bulgaria in recent years after the economic crisis. Many people have very low incomes and are unable to request and pay for a lawyer,” says Elena Cherneva, President of the Bulgarian Legal Aid Office (NLAB), a public institution responsible for providing legal aid. Articles, documents and reports on Bulgaria from the International Legal Aid Group (ICG) As we visit the hotline premises in the capital Sofia, a woman who has been a victim of domestic violence and wants to divorce asks for legal advice. There is also no publicly funded legal aid for children detained in closed institutions to challenge the detention order, despite general child protection legislation which provides for the right of all children to such assistance.

[3] As the LARB does not provide for the appointment of guardians for unaccompanied or separated children and children can only take legal action under Bulgarian law with or with the consent of their guardian, they cannot challenge their detention order unless they receive tailor-made legal assistance to seek a remedy without them. Legal aid consists of consultations with a view to reaching an agreement before initiating legal proceedings or bringing proceedings; Preparation of documents for referral to court and legal representation by a lawyer. The NLAB grants legal aid if the authority directing the stages of the proceedings (e.g. the court) considers that the person concerned (e.g. the defendant in criminal proceedings or a party to civil proceedings) should be represented by a lawyer. The President of the NLAB grants legal aid for consultations and the preparation of documents necessary for bringing a case before a court. As a result of the expansion of legal aid, the number of legal aid applications submitted through the National Legal Aid Office has decreased by almost 20 per cent. Although legal aid for appeals is provided from the State budget, access to the courts to bring such appeals depends heavily on the provision of legal aid by NGOs when legal aid is not provided outside judicial proceedings.

This is the most negative impact on asylum seekers detained in closed centres to which only the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has granted access. Consequently, the effective access of those applicants to legal aid during the procedure is completely cancelled. As part of a Norwegian-funded project, the office introduced two entirely new services that offer free legal advice – services that were not previously available in Bulgaria. You can call a 070018250 helpline if you have questions about government-paid legal aid or need legal advice. Natasha Gergova is one of more than 40 lawyers working for the national hotline. She explains that most callers have serious problems, combined with a difficult financial situation. In its 2019 report, the CPT stressed that legal aid will be entirely left to various NGOs, whose representatives visit the two detention centres and assist detainees pro bono in their immigration and asylum procedures, including access to justice. In this context, the CPT reiterates its recommendation to extend the legal aid system of the National Legal Aid Office to detained aliens at all stages of the detention procedure; whereas for poor foreigners, these services should be provided free of charge[2] “I am very happy to be able to help people who otherwise would not have legal assistance,” Gergova said.

Detained applicants are entitled to legal aid. [1] However, detainees, including asylum seekers in detention centres, did not receive legal aid until the end of 2019 due to budgetary constraints of the National Legal Aid Office, despite an AMIF-funded pilot project that provided legal assistance to vulnerable asylum seekers for the first time in Bulgaria (see Ordinary procedure: legal assistance). There are various non-governmental organizations in Bulgaria that can provide you with free legal assistance. If things don`t work well with your lawyer, you have the right to fire your lawyer and appoint another one. To do this, inform the lawyer and the court in writing. Two regional legal aid centres and a national hotline providing legal advice to people in difficult situations will be set up as new services in Bulgaria. These services are so successful that they are now being continued and expanded. This page contains legislation, reports and other documents relevant to understanding the legal aid system in Bulgaria. A hotline will be set up to provide legal advice to callers across the country, as well as two regional helplines in Vidin and Sliven – areas of Bulgaria with a large Roma population. As a result, around 10,000 people have so far benefited from free legal assistance, in the form of appointments or telephone consultations. The centres and helpline are run by qualified lawyers. Access to justice is a fundamental right.

Lack of knowledge about rights and low incomes can discourage people, especially those from vulnerable backgrounds, from seeking legal advice. She explains that in the past, it was difficult to reach people living in remote locations, who often lacked the means or knowledge to travel and seek legal advice. Many people seeking help – such as victims of domestic violence and people with disabilities – also prefer the option to remain anonymous provided by the hotline. The National Legal Aid Office, in collaboration with the bar associations, organizes the granting of legal aid to persons in need, including victims of crime.