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Legal Lens

How to get public legal aid

Learn how you can benefit from public legal aid and have a free lawyer. The facility is regulated by Emergency Ordinance 51/2008.

โ€” Stefan-Lucian Deleanu

โ—
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Users You are advised to carefully read the information presented., to take full responsibility for the decisions made and to seek professional assistance for special cases.

Can you imagine facing legal troubles without the funds for a lawyer? Feeling like your rights are being violated but not being able to do anything about it because you can't afford the cost of a lawsuit? Fortunately, there is a solution: public legal aid. This state support can make the difference between giving up to injustice and fighting for what you deserve.

Who is eligible for legal aid?

But who can benefit from this help? In principle, anyone whose income is too low to cover the costs of litigation.

Eligibility Criteria

  • If your average net income per family member over the last two months is less than 25% of the country's gross minimum salary, you will receive full state support.
  • If your income is between 25% and 50% of the minimum salary, you will receive a partial coverage of 50% of the costs.

When we say "income", we mean all sources of money for you and your family:

  • salaries
  • Pensions
  • compensation
  • chirii
  • independent activities, etc.

What matters is what's left in your pocket "per capita" from these revenues, after paying any maintenance obligations.

Special situations

There are, however, situations where You can get help regardless of your income.. For example:

  • If you are a minor
  • disabled person
  • victim of domestic violence

In these cases, you are entitled to free legal aid in certain procedures due to your vulnerability. The state understands that you need additional protection.

Exceptions and limitations

However, even if you fall within the income brackets, there are a few situations where you may not be eligible for assistance:

  • If you're seeking assistance for minor processes or nuisance tactics, just to harass your opponent
  • If you are claiming moral damages for harm to your reputation, without having suffered any tangible harm
  • If you are a lawyer, notary, or executor, you cannot ask for help for your own professional disputes.

Anyone can otherwise turn to the courts to request public legal aid. It is your right to have access to justice, and the state has the duty to support you if you do not have the necessary means.

It is important to complete the application correctly and attach all the documents that prove your financial and family situation. With a little attention and perseverance, you can get the support you need to defend your rights in court.

Forms of judicial aid

Once you've determined that you're eligible for public legal aid, the next step is to understand what forms this support can take. In other words, what concrete help can the state offer you in your quest to access justice? Here are the key benefits you can take advantage of:

Free Legal Aid

Most often, you will need the assistance of a lawyer. Upon approval of legal aid:

  • You will receive free advice and representation from a court-appointed lawyer.
  • This will accompany you throughout the process
  • The state will pay for your legal advice, document preparation, and representation in court.

Here's an idiomatic translation of the provided string from Romanian to English: "So, even if you can't afford to hire a lawyer, you will still benefit from their expertise and support."

Tax Exemptions and Reductions

Another extremely useful form of assistance is the waiver, reduction, or installment of court fees. If you receive public legal aid:

  • You will be exempt from paying taxes in full or in part, depending on your income level.
  • You could also benefit from a rescheduling of payments, in more manageable monthly installments.

Reimbursement of other expenses

Sometimes, to support your cause, you need the opinions of experts, witnesses, or specialists. With the help of public justice, the following can also be covered:

  • The costs for paying experts, witnesses, and specialists
  • Translation: "any necessary translation or interpretation expenses in the file"
  • The fee of the court enforcement officer, in the enforcement phase of the decision

The goal is for no cost associated with the process to become an obstacle to your access to justice.

Of course, the help is not unlimited - the law provides for certain ceilings up to which each type of expense can be reimbursed. But within these amounts, you benefit from substantial support to help you enforce your rights.

The possibility of cumulating aid forms

It is important to note that public legal aid can be granted for multiple forms concurrently or sequentially:

  • You can get both lawyer assistance and tax exemption and reimbursement of other expenses.
  • If you need help throughout the various stages of the process (first instance, appeal, retrial), you can request his approval for each stage separately.

In the end, even if it may seem complicated at first, the mechanism of public legal aid is designed precisely to simplify access to justice for those who need it most.

Once you understand what it entails and how you can benefit from it, it is essential to exercise this right whenever the situation calls for it. With the support of the state and your determination to fight for justice, no obstacle is insurmountable in the pursuit of justice.

Requesting Legal Aid from the State

Now that you know who can benefit from public legal aid and what it entails, the next step is to find out how you can actually get this support. Here are the steps of the application procedure:

Identificarea instanศ›ei competente

  • The request for public judicial assistance is filed with the court that will hear the case for which you need assistance.
  • If the process has not yet begun and you are unsure which court will be competent, you can file the application with the court at your place of residence.

The moment of filing the request

  • You can ask for public judicial help at any time during the process, even directly in front of the court.
  • It is ideal to submit the request as soon as possible, so you can benefit from assistance from the very beginning.
  • Warning: requesting assistance does not suspend procedural deadlines! If you have a deadline to file a lawsuit, do not wait for a response to your assistance request, but file the lawsuit within the deadline anyway.

Content of the application and necessary documents

  • In your request, you will need to briefly explain the subject and nature of the process for which you are seeking assistance and specify the type of help you need (lawyer, tax exemption, etc.).
  • You will complete your identification data and provide a description of your financial and family situation.
  • Upon request, supporting documents such as:
    • Income certificates for you and your family members
    • tax certificate
    • Account extracts
    • Other proof of income and support obligations

Soluศ›ionarea cererii

  • The court will examine your request without the need to summon you to a hearing.
  • Within 15 days of receiving the complete file, the court will decide to accept or reject the application through a ruling.
  • You can appeal against the rejection within 5 days of notification, after which another panel of judges will re-examine the application.

Appointment of a court-appointed lawyer

  • Once the application is admitted, if you have requested the assistance of a lawyer, the court will send a letter to the bar association to appoint one for you.
  • The bar will communicate the name of the assigned lawyer to you shortly.
  • From that moment on, you can consult a lawyer to discuss the defense strategy and provide them with all the necessary documents and information.

Reevaluarea situaศ›iei ศ™i รฎncetarea ajutorului

  • Throughout the process, if your financial situation improves, you are obliged to inform the court, and it may order the termination of the assistance.
  • Anyone with an interest can bring the matter to court if they believe that you no longer meet the conditions for assistance, in which case the court will re-evaluate the situation.
  • If it is found that you obtained assistance based on false statements, you may be required to repay the amounts you received and pay a fine.

As you can see, the procedure for requesting legal aid is not very complicated, but it does require some attention and rigor in preparing the documentation.

It is essential to be as accurate and comprehensive as possible in describing your situation to enable the court to make a correct assessment. With a little perseverance, you will be able to obtain the support you need to argue your case in court.

Chapter 4: Rights and obligations of the beneficiary of public legal aid

Once you have obtained public legal aid, it is important to understand both the rights and obligations that come with it. Here are a few essential points:

Right to information

  • You have the right to be informed about all aspects of the procedure for granting public legal aid.
  • The court-appointed lawyer is obliged to provide you with all the necessary clarifications and keep you informed about the progress of the case.

The right to a competent lawyer

  • You are entitled to the assistance of a lawyer with experience and adequate knowledge of your case.
  • If you are not satisfied with the work of the appointed lawyer, you can request a replacement, and the court will decide.

The obligation to cooperate with the lawyer

  • For effective defense, you must cooperate with the court-appointed lawyer, providing them with all relevant information and documents.
  • You are obliged to attend hearings and respect the instructions given by your lawyer.
  • If you unjustifiably refuse to cooperate with the lawyer, the assistance may cease.

The obligation to declare the change in financial situation

  • If your financial situation significantly improves during the process, you are obliged to inform the court.
  • If the change is discovered from other sources, you may be required to stop the aid and reimburse any amounts you have unfairly benefited from.

The right to request assistance for appeals

  • If you want to appeal the decision made in the first instance, you can again request public legal aid for the next stage of the proceedings (appeal, cassation).
  • A new request will be needed, and the court will once again verify the fulfillment of the conditions, being able to grant or not the aid for the appeal.

Judicial aid in extrajudicial proceedings

  • In limited situations, assistance can also be provided for the assistance of a lawyer outside of a judicial procedure, for consultations, drafting of requests, mediation, etc.
  • As a rule, extrajudicial assistance is granted only if there is a prospect of preventing a dispute or the need to prepare a complex defense.
Benefitting from legal aid essentially grants you a set of guarantees for the effective defence of your rights in court, but it also entails your cooperative and diligent behaviour.

As long as you are honest and committed to your legal journey, you can trust that the help you receive will give you access to the tools you need to support your cause.

Special rules for EU citizens and cross-border applications

In today's world, it's not uncommon to have legal issues that cross international borders. If you are a citizen of the European Union or reside in a member state, you benefit from special rules on access to justice and legal aid. Here's what you need to know:

Citizens' rights to request assistance in Romania

  • If you are a citizen of an EU member state or have your habitual residence in such a state, you can request public legal aid in Romania under the same conditions as Romanian citizens.
  • It doesn't matter if your income is earned abroad, as long as you can prove that it doesn't allow you to cover the costs of the process in Romania.

Filing in your state of residence

  • You can file your application for legal aid either directly in Romania, with the competent court, or through the authorities of the state of your citizenship or residence.
  • In the latter case, the foreign authority will forward your request to the Romanian authority, along with the relevant documents.

Translation: "The obligation to translate documents"

  • When requesting public judicial assistance in Romania for a cross-border case, you will need to submit the supporting documents in their original language, accompanied by translations in Romanian.
  • Translations must be performed by an authorized translator and will be supported by you, but can be reimbursed later as part of the aid granted.

Assistance for Romanian citizens in other EU states

  • The same mechanism works in reverse - as a Romanian citizen, you can receive assistance from Romanian authorities to obtain legal aid in other EU member states.
  • The Ministry of Justice, as a central authority, will support you in correctly completing the forms and submitting them to the requested state, in the language accepted by it.

Additional benefits in cross-border litigation

  • In cross-border litigation in the EU, public legal aid can also cover other aspects, such as:
    • court-ordered translation costs
    • travel expenses, if your presence is considered necessary by the court
    • other costs considered indispensable for resolving the case

In the context of the European Union, legal aid is a crucial tool for ensuring equal access to justice for all citizens, regardless of the member state in which the trial takes place.

Cooperation mechanisms between member states allow overcoming linguistic and procedural barriers, so that no one is hindered from defending their rights due to the costs of a cross-border litigation.

Conclusion

The right to a fair trial is a fundamental principle of any democratic society. However, for this right to be effective, justice must be accessible to all, regardless of their financial situation. Legal aid is the means by which the state ensures that those with limited resources can still access the tools necessary to defend their interests in court.

Throughout this article, we have extensively explored the conditions, forms, and procedure for granting public legal aid in Romania. We have seen that through this mechanism, you can obtain the free assistance of a lawyer from the office, exemption from paying court fees, and reimbursement of other necessary expenses for the process.

It is essential to know the eligibility criteria based on your income and to understand the concrete steps to request help when you need it. With a little attention and perseverance in preparing the documentation, anyone can enjoy this extremely useful support.

We also discussed some specific issues, such as the possibility for EU citizens to receive legal aid in Romania for cross-border disputes. Regardless of the nature of your legal problem, it is important to know that you are not alone in facing the obstacles raised by a lawsuit.

Justice should not be a luxury, but a fundamental public service, accessible to all. Public legal aid is an expression of social solidarity and the state's commitment to protecting the rights of the vulnerable.

STRING IN ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: "Whenever you encounter difficulties in accessing justice due to limited resources, do not hesitate to seek this support. With the help received and your determination to fight for justice, no obstacle is insurmountable." STRING IDIOMATICALLY TRANSLATED IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE: "Whenever you face challenges in accessing justice because of limited resources, don't hesitate to reach out for this support. With the help received and your determination to fight for what's right, no obstacle is too great."

We hope that this guide has provided you with all the necessary information to understand and benefit from the help of the public justice system when you need it. Remember that you can always turn to other resources to learn more - courts, lawyers' associations, specialized non-governmental organizations are at your disposal to guide you.

No matter how difficult the situation seems, don't give up on fighting for your rights. With the right support and trust in justice, the truth will always come to light. Good luck!

Access Emergency Order 51/2008:

Format text (Updated 06/25/2024):

Updated version of the Ministry of Justice can be accessed here