Through the China – EU Access to Justice programme we support China in assessing policies and improving the performance of legal aid provision for people in remote and inaccessible areas, and especially those from disadvantaged groups.
Working with provincial legal aid centres, legal aid workers and senior experts and officials in the Ministry of Justice, our project team will:
- Provide assistance to the Ministry of Justice to assess National Policy on legal aid and to review and evaluate it against Chinese goals
- Deliver best practice principles to improve legal aid services in Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Henan provinces
- Develop learning opportunities and support the transfer of knowledge on legal aid procedures and practice between European and Chinese policy makers.
An initial, comprehensive baseline study will be carried out using a methodology based on international best practice to map the supply of current legal aid provision and the demand for legal aid.
As different people have different needs and expectations from the justice system, we will also measure the access to justice and legal needs of men, women, boys and girls, differentiated by class, culture, special needs and ethnicity.
This will provide data for monitoring the performance of the pilot models and demonstrate the effectiveness of current policies.
Experience and trust
The programme will concentrate on demand-led improvements to legal aid provision by focusing on disadvantaged groups in the three pilot provinces of Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Henan.
The programme will follow a ‘step-by-step’ approach, based on full and informed discussion, to ensure key stakeholders are consulted and engaged before each step is taken.
A series of policy dialogue events will give Chinese and EU policy makers the opportunity to evaluate best practice models for legal aid provision.
Legal aid services will be improved through public/private partnership approach between legal aid centres and civil society groups and private law firms. Coverage of legal aid services will be increased in rural areas, and services will be improved to ensure they are:
- Clear and suited to the needs of disadvantaged people
- Simple to access
- Freely available
- Not heavily dependent on lawyers.
Ultimately, the project will lead to the building of a more cost-effective, higher quality institutional model for legal aid delivery, by:
- Improving the scope and quality of services delivered by existing government legal aid centres
- Providing skills, knowledge, and capacity support to civil society organisations, public interest and local law firms
- Developing better quality control and performance monitoring to ensure a consistent standard of legal aid delivery
- Exploring the best ways for social/private sectors to work in partnership with government
- Providing international best practice knowledge and experience to assist the Ministry of Justice in evaluating legal aid policies.