BETA


2012/2101(INI) Improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes

Progress: Procedure completed

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead JURI ZWIEFKA Tadeusz (icon: PPE PPE)
Committee Opinion IMCO MAYER Hans-Peter (icon: PPE PPE) Ashley FOX (icon: ECR ECR), Robert ROCHEFORT (icon: ALDE ALDE)
Committee Opinion LIBE
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
RoP 052

Events

2013/11/15
   EC - Commission response to text adopted in plenary
Documents
2013/06/11
   EP - Results of vote in Parliament
2013/06/11
   EP - Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
Details

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes.

Parliament congratulates the Commission on the submission of its report on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC on improving access to justice in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. It notes that all Member States have transposed the directive, even though the interpretation of the scope of the directive on certain points differs among the Member States. It regrets that the Commission does not specifically address the European procedures to which the Legal Aid Directive is also applicable, such as the European Small Claims Procedure.

Public awareness : Members regret the fact that relatively few citizens and practitioners seem to be aware of the rights conferred by the directive. They call on the Commission and the Member States to:

take measures to increase awareness of the right to cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters;

launch an effective information campaign in order to reach a large number of potential beneficiaries as well as legal practitioners.

Parliament recommends that the Commission and Member States use a wide range of communication channels , including internet-based campaigns and interactive platforms such as the e-Justice Portal, as cost-effective ways to reach citizens.

Ensuring competent legal support : Parliament considers that databases of legal professionals with the sufficient linguistic and comparative law skills to act in cross-border legal aid cases should be established, thus ensuring that legal professionals are appointed who are able to act in such cases. It suggests that special training schemes to provide legal practitioners with cross-border competency would be desirable, with a focus on language courses and comparative law .

The Commission is called upon to provide funding where possible for Member States, to ensure consistent, high-level legal training on cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters.

Facilitating the operation of the directive for citizens : stressing the importance of ensuring that application procedures are simple , Parliament makes the following recommendations:

it would be advisable to designate a single authority with responsibility for cross-border legal aid and with a central office in each Member State for receiving and transmitting legal aid applications; applicants should be given the choice of applying for legal aid in their Member State of residence or in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced. Under such arrangements, the authorities of each Member State would then be able to apply their own criteria when deciding on the application; any decision of the authorities of the Member State of residence granting legal aid, as evidenced by a common certificate , should also have effect in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced; the costs covered by legal aid should also include the costs of, and associated with, any obligatory appearance before a judge or other authority assessing the application. Moreover, particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups .

The Commission is invited to submit a proposal for an amendment of the directive along the above lines , with a view to establishing common higher standards for cross-border legal aid.

Encouraging alternative forms of legal support : the resolution suggests:

that national courts be connected by an early-warning system so that, when an application for assistance is made in one Member State, the other Member States are made aware of it; greater cooperation between the Commission, Member States and professional legal bodies and organisations such as European and national bars and law societies.

International aspects of legal aid : Parliament calls on those Member States that have not yet signed and/or ratified the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on International Access to Justice to proceed to do so, as it improves citizens’ access to justice outside the European Union.

Documents
2013/06/11
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2013/06/10
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2013/04/30
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
Details

The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Tadeusz ZWIEFKA (EPP, PL) on improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes.

Application of Directive 2003/8/EC : Members congratulate the Commission on the submission of its report on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC on improving access to justice in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. They note with satisfaction that all Member States have transposed the directive, even though the interpretation of the scope of the directive on certain points differs among the Member States. They regret that the Commission does not specifically address the European procedures to which the Legal Aid Directive is also applicable, such as the European Small Claims Procedure.

Public awareness : Members regret the fact that relatively few citizens and practitioners seem to be aware of the rights conferred by the directive. They call on the Commission and the Member States to : (i) take measures to increase awareness of the right to cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters; (ii) launch an effective information campaign in order to reach a large number of potential beneficiaries as well as legal practitioners.

Ensuring competent legal support : the report considers that databases of legal professionals with the sufficient linguistic and comparative law skills to act in cross-border legal aid cases should be established, thus ensuring that legal professionals are appointed who are able to act in such cases. They suggest that special training schemes to provide legal practitioners with cross-border competency would be desirable, with a focus on language courses and comparative law . The commission is urge to support specific training for lawyers providing legal aid.

Facilitating the operation of the directive for citizens : in this respect, the report makes the following recommendations:

it would be advisable to designate a single authority with responsibility for cross-border legal aid and with a central office in each Member State for receiving and transmitting legal aid applications; applicants should be given the choice of applying for legal aid in their Member State of residence or in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced. Under such arrangements, the authorities of each Member State would then be able to apply their own criteria when deciding on the application; any decision of the authorities of the Member State of residence granting legal aid, as evidenced by a common certificate , should also have effect in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced; the costs covered by legal aid should also include the costs of, and associated with, any obligatory appearance before a judge or other authority assessing the application. Moreover, particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups .

The Commission is invited to submit a proposal for an amendment of the directive along the above lines , with a view to establishing common higher standards for cross-border legal

aid.

International aspects of legal aid : the report calls on those Member States that have not yet signed and/or ratified the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on International Access to Justice to proceed to do so, as it improves citizens’ access to justice outside the European Union.

Documents
2013/04/25
   EP - Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
2013/04/12
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2013/04/09
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2013/03/04
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2013/01/30
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2012/10/10
   EP - MAYER Hans-Peter (PPE) appointed as rapporteur in IMCO
2012/05/30
   EP - ZWIEFKA Tadeusz (PPE) appointed as rapporteur in JURI
2012/05/25
   PT_PARLIAMENT - Contribution
Documents
2012/05/24
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
2012/02/23
   EC - Follow-up document
Details

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented . These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements : the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid : it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently : an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries : a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority : it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results : the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive : the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries , the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

2012/02/23
   EC - Non-legislative basic document published
Details

The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

Practical application : during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

· the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

· the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

· costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

Points of reflection

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid : the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

· taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

· harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently : the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries : this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority : it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results : the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries , the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

Documents

AmendmentsDossier
46 2012/2101(INI)
2013/02/28 IMCO 21 amendments...
source: PE-506.151
2013/03/04 JURI 22 amendments...
source: PE-506.178
2013/04/09 JURI 3 amendments...
source: PE-508.232

History

(these mark the time of scraping, not the official date of the change)

committees/0
type
Responsible Committee
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Legal Affairs
committee
JURI
rapporteur
name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz date: 2012-05-30T00:00:00 group: European People's Party (Christian Democrats) abbr: PPE
committees/0
type
Responsible Committee
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Legal Affairs
committee
JURI
date
2012-05-30T00:00:00
rapporteur
name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz group: European People's Party (Christian Democrats) abbr: PPE
committees/1
type
Committee Opinion
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Internal Market and Consumer Protection
committee
IMCO
rapporteur
name: MAYER Hans-Peter date: 2012-10-10T00:00:00 group: European People's Party (Christian Democrats) abbr: PPE
committees/1
type
Committee Opinion
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Internal Market and Consumer Protection
committee
IMCO
date
2012-10-10T00:00:00
rapporteur
name: MAYER Hans-Peter group: European People's Party (Christian Democrats) abbr: PPE
docs/0/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf
docs/5/body
EC
events/0/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf
events/3/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-161&language=EN
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-7-2013-0161_EN.html
events/6/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-240
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-7-2013-0240_EN.html
activities
  • date: 2012-02-23T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf title: COM(2012)0071 type: Non-legislative basic document published celexid: CELEX:52012DC0071:EN body: EC commission: DG: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice Commissioner: REDING Viviane type: Non-legislative basic document published
  • date: 2012-05-24T00:00:00 body: EP type: Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading committees: body: EP responsible: False committee: IMCO date: 2012-10-10T00:00:00 committee_full: Internal Market and Consumer Protection rapporteur: group: PPE name: MAYER Hans-Peter body: EP responsible: True committee: JURI date: 2012-05-30T00:00:00 committee_full: Legal Affairs rapporteur: group: PPE name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee: LIBE
  • date: 2013-04-25T00:00:00 body: EP type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading committees: body: EP responsible: False committee: IMCO date: 2012-10-10T00:00:00 committee_full: Internal Market and Consumer Protection rapporteur: group: PPE name: MAYER Hans-Peter body: EP responsible: True committee: JURI date: 2012-05-30T00:00:00 committee_full: Legal Affairs rapporteur: group: PPE name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee: LIBE
  • date: 2013-04-30T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-161&language=EN type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading title: A7-0161/2013 body: EP type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
  • date: 2013-06-10T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130610&type=CRE type: Debate in Parliament title: Debate in Parliament body: EP type: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2013-06-11T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=22907&l=en type: Results of vote in Parliament title: Results of vote in Parliament url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-240 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading title: T7-0240/2013 body: EP type: Results of vote in Parliament
commission
  • body: EC dg: Justice and Consumers commissioner: REDING Viviane
committees/0
type
Responsible Committee
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Legal Affairs
committee
JURI
date
2012-05-30T00:00:00
rapporteur
name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz group: European People's Party (Christian Democrats) abbr: PPE
committees/0
body
EP
responsible
False
committee
IMCO
date
2012-10-10T00:00:00
committee_full
Internal Market and Consumer Protection
rapporteur
group: PPE name: MAYER Hans-Peter
committees/1
type
Committee Opinion
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Internal Market and Consumer Protection
committee
IMCO
date
2012-10-10T00:00:00
rapporteur
name: MAYER Hans-Peter group: European People's Party (Christian Democrats) abbr: PPE
committees/1
body
EP
responsible
True
committee
JURI
date
2012-05-30T00:00:00
committee_full
Legal Affairs
rapporteur
group: PPE name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz
committees/2
type
Committee Opinion
body
EP
associated
False
committee_full
Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
committee
LIBE
opinion
False
committees/2
body
EP
responsible
False
committee_full
Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
committee
LIBE
docs
  • date: 2012-02-23T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf title: COM(2012)0071 url: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg=EN&type_doc=COMfinal&an_doc=2012&nu_doc=71 title: EUR-Lex summary: PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes. BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice. The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment. This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010. CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented . These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application. The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory. Possible improvements : the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following: Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid : it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court. From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds. Costs not covered currently : an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court. Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries : a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State. Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority : it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise. Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results : the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result. Increase awareness about the Directive : the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages. The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive. Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate. Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate. Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries , the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states. type: Follow-up document body: EC
  • date: 2013-01-30T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE504.231 title: PE504.231 type: Committee draft report body: EP
  • date: 2013-03-04T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE506.178 title: PE506.178 type: Amendments tabled in committee body: EP
  • date: 2013-04-09T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE508.232 title: PE508.232 type: Amendments tabled in committee body: EP
  • date: 2013-04-12T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE504.091&secondRef=02 title: PE504.091 committee: IMCO type: Committee opinion body: EP
  • date: 2013-11-15T00:00:00 docs: url: /oeil/spdoc.do?i=22907&j=0&l=en title: SP(2013)626 type: Commission response to text adopted in plenary
  • date: 2012-05-25T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.connefof.europarl.europa.eu/connefof/app/exp/COM(2012)0071 title: COM(2012)0071 type: Contribution body: PT_PARLIAMENT
events
  • date: 2012-02-23T00:00:00 type: Non-legislative basic document published body: EC docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf title: COM(2012)0071 url: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg=EN&type_doc=COMfinal&an_doc=2012&nu_doc=71 title: EUR-Lex summary: The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010. Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid. Practical application : during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards: · the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases; · the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account; · costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States. Points of reflection Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid : the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered: · taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or · harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds. Costs not covered currently : the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence. Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries : this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State. Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority : it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise. Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results : the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard. Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate. Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries , the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.
  • date: 2012-05-24T00:00:00 type: Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2013-04-25T00:00:00 type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2013-04-30T00:00:00 type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-161&language=EN title: A7-0161/2013 summary: The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Tadeusz ZWIEFKA (EPP, PL) on improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. Application of Directive 2003/8/EC : Members congratulate the Commission on the submission of its report on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC on improving access to justice in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. They note with satisfaction that all Member States have transposed the directive, even though the interpretation of the scope of the directive on certain points differs among the Member States. They regret that the Commission does not specifically address the European procedures to which the Legal Aid Directive is also applicable, such as the European Small Claims Procedure. Public awareness : Members regret the fact that relatively few citizens and practitioners seem to be aware of the rights conferred by the directive. They call on the Commission and the Member States to : (i) take measures to increase awareness of the right to cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters; (ii) launch an effective information campaign in order to reach a large number of potential beneficiaries as well as legal practitioners. Ensuring competent legal support : the report considers that databases of legal professionals with the sufficient linguistic and comparative law skills to act in cross-border legal aid cases should be established, thus ensuring that legal professionals are appointed who are able to act in such cases. They suggest that special training schemes to provide legal practitioners with cross-border competency would be desirable, with a focus on language courses and comparative law . The commission is urge to support specific training for lawyers providing legal aid. Facilitating the operation of the directive for citizens : in this respect, the report makes the following recommendations: it would be advisable to designate a single authority with responsibility for cross-border legal aid and with a central office in each Member State for receiving and transmitting legal aid applications; applicants should be given the choice of applying for legal aid in their Member State of residence or in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced. Under such arrangements, the authorities of each Member State would then be able to apply their own criteria when deciding on the application; any decision of the authorities of the Member State of residence granting legal aid, as evidenced by a common certificate , should also have effect in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced; the costs covered by legal aid should also include the costs of, and associated with, any obligatory appearance before a judge or other authority assessing the application. Moreover, particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups . The Commission is invited to submit a proposal for an amendment of the directive along the above lines , with a view to establishing common higher standards for cross-border legal aid. International aspects of legal aid : the report calls on those Member States that have not yet signed and/or ratified the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on International Access to Justice to proceed to do so, as it improves citizens’ access to justice outside the European Union.
  • date: 2013-06-10T00:00:00 type: Debate in Parliament body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130610&type=CRE title: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2013-06-11T00:00:00 type: Results of vote in Parliament body: EP docs: url: https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=22907&l=en title: Results of vote in Parliament
  • date: 2013-06-11T00:00:00 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-240 title: T7-0240/2013 summary: The European Parliament adopted a resolution on improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. Parliament congratulates the Commission on the submission of its report on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC on improving access to justice in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. It notes that all Member States have transposed the directive, even though the interpretation of the scope of the directive on certain points differs among the Member States. It regrets that the Commission does not specifically address the European procedures to which the Legal Aid Directive is also applicable, such as the European Small Claims Procedure. Public awareness : Members regret the fact that relatively few citizens and practitioners seem to be aware of the rights conferred by the directive. They call on the Commission and the Member States to: take measures to increase awareness of the right to cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters; launch an effective information campaign in order to reach a large number of potential beneficiaries as well as legal practitioners. Parliament recommends that the Commission and Member States use a wide range of communication channels , including internet-based campaigns and interactive platforms such as the e-Justice Portal, as cost-effective ways to reach citizens. Ensuring competent legal support : Parliament considers that databases of legal professionals with the sufficient linguistic and comparative law skills to act in cross-border legal aid cases should be established, thus ensuring that legal professionals are appointed who are able to act in such cases. It suggests that special training schemes to provide legal practitioners with cross-border competency would be desirable, with a focus on language courses and comparative law . The Commission is called upon to provide funding where possible for Member States, to ensure consistent, high-level legal training on cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters. Facilitating the operation of the directive for citizens : stressing the importance of ensuring that application procedures are simple , Parliament makes the following recommendations: it would be advisable to designate a single authority with responsibility for cross-border legal aid and with a central office in each Member State for receiving and transmitting legal aid applications; applicants should be given the choice of applying for legal aid in their Member State of residence or in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced. Under such arrangements, the authorities of each Member State would then be able to apply their own criteria when deciding on the application; any decision of the authorities of the Member State of residence granting legal aid, as evidenced by a common certificate , should also have effect in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced; the costs covered by legal aid should also include the costs of, and associated with, any obligatory appearance before a judge or other authority assessing the application. Moreover, particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups . The Commission is invited to submit a proposal for an amendment of the directive along the above lines , with a view to establishing common higher standards for cross-border legal aid. Encouraging alternative forms of legal support : the resolution suggests: that national courts be connected by an early-warning system so that, when an application for assistance is made in one Member State, the other Member States are made aware of it; greater cooperation between the Commission, Member States and professional legal bodies and organisations such as European and national bars and law societies. International aspects of legal aid : Parliament calls on those Member States that have not yet signed and/or ratified the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on International Access to Justice to proceed to do so, as it improves citizens’ access to justice outside the European Union.
  • date: 2013-06-11T00:00:00 type: End of procedure in Parliament body: EP
links
other
  • body: EC dg: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice commissioner: REDING Viviane
procedure/Modified legal basis
Old
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 150
New
Rules of Procedure EP 150
procedure/dossier_of_the_committee
Old
JURI/7/09608
New
  • JURI/7/09608
procedure/legal_basis/0
Rules of Procedure EP 052
procedure/legal_basis/0
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 052
procedure/subject
Old
  • 1.20.02 Social and economic rights
  • 4.60.06 Consumers' economic and legal interests
  • 7.40.02 Judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters
New
1.20.02
Social and economic rights
4.60.06
Consumers' economic and legal interests
7.40.02
Judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters
activities/0/docs/0/celexid
CELEX:52012DC0071:EN
activities/0/docs/0/celexid
CELEX:52012DC0071:EN
activities/0/type
Old
Non-legislative basic document
New
Non-legislative basic document published
activities/1/committees
  • body: EP responsible: False committee: IMCO date: 2012-10-10T00:00:00 committee_full: Internal Market and Consumer Protection rapporteur: group: PPE name: MAYER Hans-Peter
  • body: EP responsible: True committee: JURI date: 2012-05-30T00:00:00 committee_full: Legal Affairs rapporteur: group: PPE name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz
  • body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee: LIBE
activities/1/date
Old
2013-03-04T00:00:00
New
2012-05-24T00:00:00
activities/1/docs
  • url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE506.178 type: Amendments tabled in committee title: PE506.178
activities/1/type
Old
Amendments tabled in committee
New
Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
activities/2/committees
  • body: EP responsible: False committee: IMCO date: 2012-10-10T00:00:00 committee_full: Internal Market and Consumer Protection rapporteur: group: PPE name: MAYER Hans-Peter
  • body: EP responsible: True committee: JURI date: 2012-05-30T00:00:00 committee_full: Legal Affairs rapporteur: group: PPE name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz
  • body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee: LIBE
activities/2/date
Old
2013-01-30T00:00:00
New
2013-04-25T00:00:00
activities/2/docs
  • url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE504.231 type: Committee draft report title: PE504.231
activities/2/type
Old
Committee draft report
New
Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
activities/4/date
Old
2013-04-09T00:00:00
New
2013-06-10T00:00:00
activities/4/docs/0/title
Old
PE508.232
New
Debate in Parliament
activities/4/docs/0/type
Old
Amendments tabled in committee
New
Debate in Parliament
activities/4/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE508.232
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130610&type=CRE
activities/4/type
Old
Amendments tabled in committee
New
Debate in Parliament
activities/5
date
2013-04-25T00:00:00
body
EP
type
Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
committees
activities/5/committees
  • body: EP responsible: False committee: IMCO date: 2012-10-10T00:00:00 committee_full: Internal Market and Consumer Protection rapporteur: group: EPP name: MAYER Hans-Peter
  • body: EP responsible: True committee: JURI date: 2012-05-30T00:00:00 committee_full: Legal Affairs rapporteur: group: EPP name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz
  • body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee: LIBE
activities/5/date
Old
2012-05-24T00:00:00
New
2013-06-11T00:00:00
activities/5/docs
  • url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=22907&l=en type: Results of vote in Parliament title: Results of vote in Parliament
  • url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-240 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading title: T7-0240/2013
activities/5/type
Old
Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
New
Results of vote in Parliament
activities/7
date
2013-06-10T00:00:00
body
EP
type
Debate in Parliament
activities/8
date
2013-06-11T00:00:00
docs
url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-240 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading title: T7-0240/2013
body
EP
type
Text adopted by Parliament, single reading
committees/0/rapporteur/0/group
Old
EPP
New
PPE
committees/0/rapporteur/0/mepref
Old
4de186c80fb8127435bdc0e2
New
4f1ad993b819f207b3000024
committees/1/rapporteur/0/group
Old
EPP
New
PPE
committees/1/rapporteur/0/mepref
Old
4de1898b0fb8127435bdc4c5
New
4f1adcd7b819f207b3000140
procedure/Modified legal basis
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 150
procedure/legal_basis/0
Old
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 048
New
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 052
activities/3/date
Old
2013-06-04T00:00:00
New
2013-03-04T00:00:00
activities/3/docs
  • url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE506.178 type: Amendments tabled in committee title: PE506.178
activities/3/type
Old
Vote in plenary scheduled
New
Amendments tabled in committee
activities/7/type
Old
Indicative plenary sitting date, 1st reading/single reading
New
Debate in Parliament
activities/8/date
Old
2013-03-04T00:00:00
New
2013-06-11T00:00:00
activities/8/docs/0/title
Old
PE506.178
New
T7-0240/2013
activities/8/docs/0/type
Old
Amendments tabled in committee
New
Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
activities/8/docs/0/url
Old
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE506.178
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-240
activities/8/type
Old
Amendments tabled in committee
New
Text adopted by Parliament, single reading
procedure/stage_reached
Old
Awaiting Parliament 1st reading / single reading / budget 1st stage
New
Procedure completed
activities/6/docs/0/text
  • The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Tadeusz ZWIEFKA (EPP, PL) on improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes.

    Application of Directive 2003/8/EC: Members congratulate the Commission on the submission of its report on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC on improving access to justice in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. They note with satisfaction that all Member States have transposed the directive, even though the interpretation of the scope of the directive on certain points differs among the Member States. They regret that the Commission does not specifically address the European procedures to which the Legal Aid Directive is also applicable, such as the European Small Claims Procedure.

    Public awareness: Members regret the fact that relatively few citizens and practitioners seem to be aware of the rights conferred by the directive. They call on the Commission and the Member States to : (i) take measures to increase awareness of the right to cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters; (ii) launch an effective information campaign in order to reach a large number of potential beneficiaries as well as legal practitioners.

    Ensuring competent legal support: the report considers that databases of legal professionals with the sufficient linguistic and comparative law skills to act in cross-border legal aid cases should be established, thus ensuring that legal professionals are appointed who are able to act in such cases. They suggest that special training schemes to provide legal practitioners with cross-border competency would be desirable, with a focus on language courses and comparative law.  The commission is urge to support specific training for lawyers providing legal aid.

    Facilitating the operation of the directive for citizens: in this respect, the report makes the following recommendations:

    • it would be advisable to designate a single authority with responsibility for cross-border legal aid and with a central office in each Member State for receiving and transmitting legal aid applications;
    • applicants should be given the choice of applying for legal aid in their Member State of residence or in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced. Under such arrangements, the authorities of each Member State would then be able to apply their own criteria when deciding on the application;
    • any decision of the authorities of the Member State of residence granting legal aid, as evidenced by a common certificate, should also have effect in the Member State where the Court is sitting or the decision is being enforced;
    • the costs covered by legal aid should also include the costs of, and associated with, any obligatory appearance before a judge or other authority assessing the application. Moreover, particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups.

    The Commission is invited to submit a proposal for an amendment of the directive along the above lines, with a view to establishing common higher standards for cross-border legal

    aid.

    International aspects of legal aid: the report calls on those Member States that have not yet signed and/or ratified the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on International Access to Justice to proceed to do so, as it improves citizens’ access to justice outside the European Union.

activities/7/type
Old
Vote scheduled
New
Vote in plenary scheduled
activities/8/type
Old
Debate scheduled
New
Indicative plenary sitting date, 1st reading/single reading
activities/6/docs/0/url
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-161&language=EN
activities/7
date
2013-06-04T00:00:00
body
EP
type
Vote scheduled
activities/8/type
Old
Indicative plenary sitting date, 1st reading/single reading
New
Debate scheduled
activities/6
date
2013-04-30T00:00:00
docs
type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading title: A7-0161/2013
body
EP
type
Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
activities/5
date
2013-04-25T00:00:00
body
EP
type
Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
committees
activities/5/date
Old
2013-05-23T00:00:00
New
2013-06-10T00:00:00
activities/5/date
Old
2013-05-20T00:00:00
New
2013-05-23T00:00:00
activities/4/docs/0/url
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE508.232
activities/4
date
2013-04-09T00:00:00
docs
type: Amendments tabled in committee title: PE508.232
body
EP
type
Amendments tabled in committee
activities/3/docs/0/url
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE506.178
activities/4
date
2013-05-20T00:00:00
body
EP
type
Indicative plenary sitting date, 1st reading/single reading
activities/3/date
Old
2013-02-28T00:00:00
New
2013-03-04T00:00:00
activities/3
date
2013-02-28T00:00:00
docs
type: Amendments tabled in committee title: PE506.178
body
EP
type
Amendments tabled in committee
activities/0/docs/0/text/0
Old

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

New

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/2/docs/0/url
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE504.231
activities/2
date
2013-01-30T00:00:00
docs
type: Committee draft report title: PE504.231
body
EP
type
Committee draft report
activities/0
body
EP
date
2012-02-23T00:00:00
type
Date
activities/0/body
Old
EP
New
EC
activities/0/commission
  • DG: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice Commissioner: REDING Viviane
activities/0/date
Old
2012-05-16T00:00:00
New
2012-02-23T00:00:00
activities/0/docs
  • url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf title: COM(2012)0071 type: Non-legislative basic document published celexid: CELEX:52012DC0071:EN
activities/0/type
Old
EP officialisation
New
Non-legislative basic document
activities/1
date
2012-02-23T00:00:00
docs
url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf celexid: CELEX:52012DC0071:EN type: Non-legislative basic document published title: COM(2012)0071
body
EC
type
Non-legislative basic document
commission
DG: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice Commissioner: REDING Viviane
activities/1/docs/0/url
Old
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg=EN&type_doc=COMfinal&an_doc=2012&nu_doc=71
New
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2012/0071/COM_COM(2012)0071_EN.pdf
activities/3/committees/0/date
2012-10-10T00:00:00
activities/3/committees/0/rapporteur
  • group: EPP name: MAYER Hans-Peter
committees/0/date
2012-10-10T00:00:00
committees/0/rapporteur
  • group: EPP name: MAYER Hans-Peter
activities/1/docs/0/text/0
Old

The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

Practical application: during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

·        the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

·        the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

·        costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

Points of reflection

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

·        taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

·        harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

New

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/1/type
Old
Follow-up document
New
Non-legislative basic document
activities/1/docs/0/text/0
Old

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

New

The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

Practical application: during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

·        the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

·        the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

·        costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

Points of reflection

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

·        taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

·        harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/1/type
Old
Non-legislative basic document
New
Follow-up document
activities/1/docs/0/text/0
Old

The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

Practical application: during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

·        the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

·        the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

·        costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

Points of reflection

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

·        taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

·        harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

New

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/1/type
Old
Follow-up document
New
Non-legislative basic document
activities/1/docs/0/text/0
Old

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

New

The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

Practical application: during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

·        the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

·        the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

·        costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

Points of reflection

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

·        taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

·        harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/1/type
Old
Non-legislative basic document
New
Follow-up document
procedure/legal_basis
  • Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 048
activities/1/docs/0/text/0
Old

The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

Practical application: during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

·        the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

·        the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

·        costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

Points of reflection

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

·        taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

·        harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

New

PURPOSE: to present the evaluation, by the Commission, on the application of Directive 2003/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross border disputes.

BACKGROUND: Directive 2003/8/EC aims to improve access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. It seeks to promote the application of legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes for persons who lack sufficient resources and where aid is necessary to secure effective access to justice.

The Directive entered into application on 30 November 2004. After 5 years of the application of the Directive, the Commission decided to launch its evaluation. The Commission launched a study in 2010 in order to be provided with input to assess in detail the transposition and the application of the Directive. In addition, the application of the Directive was discussed with the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in its meetings in 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, the Commission has accommodated letters, complaints and petitions concerning the Directive in its assessment.

This report presents the Commission assessment of the application of the Directive for the period of 30 April 2004 – 31 December 2010.

CONTENT: the report concludes that all the Member States which are bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all the application modalities of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the dispositions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid and the lack of the ECJ case law did not yet add to the uniformity of application.

The report underlined, however, that there has been only one case before the European Court of Justice concerning cross-border legal aid which may prove that the practical application of the Directive is satisfactory.

Possible improvements: the Commission considers that the implementation of the Directive can be improved firstly on the basis of current provisions, notably as regards the following:

Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: it appears that there is a need to have further clarification on the issue of economic criteria to grant legal aid. This is important as there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but he is deprived of it by the competent court.

From this perspective two solutions could be considered: (i) taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or; (ii) harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

Costs not covered currently: an interesting situation which is not covered by the Directive arises when travelling costs are to be incurred for the hearing before the judge who is to decide whether or not legal aid should be granted. Should the applicant have not sufficient financial resources to cover these expenses, he may be deprived of the possibility to obtain legal aid by the competent court.

Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: a second point to tackle could be the facilitation of relationships between professionals and beneficiaries in another Member State through measures such as: the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive foresees two ways of submitting the application for legal aid: either to the competent authority of the Member State in which the applicant is domiciled or to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. In addition, the Directive foresees the possibility to refuse to transmit the application if the transmitting authority decides that the application is unfounded or outside the scope of the Directive. Such a situation may potentially create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded. It is also possible that the applicant, whose application was rejected by the transmitted authority, will resend the application to the receiving authority directly which would create unnecessary burden as the same application would have to be considered twice, most likely with the same negative result.

Increase awareness about the Directive: the Commission observes the insufficient knowledge about the dispositions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, as evidenced by the survey: only 15% of citizens are aware of the Directive and 30 % of barristers know about the Directive's advantages.

The main point of improvement for the Member States is an efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its efforts to increase awareness about the provisions of this Directive. The Commission also will analyse the findings of the conformity checks and follow up them as appropriate.

Further to the points of reflection presented above, the Commission will also take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

Finally, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the European Union to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the European Union is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/1/type
Old
Follow-up document
New
Non-legislative basic document
activities/1/docs/0/text
  • The Commission presents a report on its assessment of the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on access to justice in cross border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid. The report covers the period of 30 April 2004 to 31 December 2010.

    Transposition: all Member States bound by the Directive have transposed the right to legal aid in cross border cases in civil and commercial matters, although it can be observed that not all provisions of the Directive have been perfectly implemented. These difficulties are explained principally by the fact that the provisions of the Directive are sometimes different from national provisions concerning legal aid.

    Practical application: during the period 2004-2009 the number of persons benefitting from cross border legal aid has increased only to a limited extent. According to the data available, the total number of cross-border legal aid applications processed by any Member State only twice reached 10029. A Eurobarometer report shows that awareness of cross-border legal aid in civil and commercial matters amounts to 12% in respondents in the EU27. The report also states that the situation may also be explained by the lack of knowledge of the instrument among legal professionals, and the restricted scope of the Directive, which is limited to civil and commercial matters. The report also observes that differences in interpretation were noted as regards:

    ·        the definition of the scope of the Directive, i.e. civil and commercial cases;

    ·        the conditions for the grant of legal aid: differences in the cost of living between Member States were taken into consideration by the Directive but there are no objective criteria specifying the way in which these differences should be taken into account;

    ·        costs covered by the Directive: arrangements for the choice and designation of a legal advisor differ significantly between Member States.

    Points of reflection

    Economic criteria to benefit from legal aid: the report notes that there are cases where the claimant obtains from the court of his domicile a confirmation that under national rules he would be eligible for legal aid but the competent court deprives him of it. Two solutions could be considered:

    ·        taking into account the difference in the cost of living between Member States, the eligibility and the amount of legal aid could be calculated on the basis of a common and objective criteria or on the basis of the criteria applied in the usual place of residence of the person applying for legal aid, or

    ·        harmonisation of the economic level or mutual recognition of thresholds.

    Costs not covered currently: the report observes that since travelling costs lie outside the scope of the Directive, an applicant may be deprived of legal aid, even if he is entitled to it in his Member State of residence.

    Facilitation of relationship between legal professionals and beneficiaries: this could be through measures such as: (i) the designation of a professional who speaks the language of the beneficiary, (ii) the assistance of a translator, or even the designation of a second professional from the State of the legal aid recipient, who would serve as a link and, for example, conduct correspondence with the legal professional based in another State.

    Clarity as to the whereabouts of the competent authority: it appears to be advisable to designate a single receiving and transmitting authority in each Member State in order to facilitate the implementation of the Directive. This is particularly important in the situation when the legal aid application is submitted directly to the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting or where the decision is to be enforced. As the Directive does not regulate the issue of what happens if the application is submitted to the incorrect receiving agency, discrepancies in such situation may arise.

    Scrutiny of the same application by two authorities with two possibly different results: the Directive provides two ways of submitting the application for legal aid, and the report notes that this may create confusion as it is possible that the receiving authority may reject the application although the transmitting authority would consider it as founded, or vice versa. Conclusions: the Commission notes the insufficient knowledge about the provisions of the Directive among citizens, legal professionals and national legal boards, and encourages efficient and active promotion of the Directive through providing the general public and professionals with information on the various systems of legal aid under the Directive, and will step up its own efforts in this regard.

    Further to the points of reflection, the Commission will take into account the reactions to this Report in its considerations for actions, as appropriate.

    Lastly, as regards the legal aid policy with third countries, the Commission will consider the accession of the EU to the 1980 Hague Convention on Access to Justice, particularly as the EU is a member of the Hague Conference. Such a step could be desirable as it would enable the uniform application of the Convention through the Union and could attract the accession of other states.

activities/1/type
Old
Non-legislative basic document
New
Follow-up document
activities/3/committees/1/date
2012-05-30T00:00:00
activities/3/committees/1/rapporteur
  • group: EPP name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz
committees/1/date
2012-05-30T00:00:00
committees/1/rapporteur
  • group: EPP name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz
activities/1/commission/0
DG
Commissioner
REDING Viviane
activities/3
date
2012-05-24T00:00:00
body
EP
type
Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
committees
other/0
body
EC
dg
commissioner
REDING Viviane
procedure/dossier_of_the_committee
JURI/7/09608
procedure/stage_reached
Old
Preparatory phase in Parliament
New
Awaiting Parliament 1st reading / single reading / budget 1st stage
activities
  • body: EP date: 2012-02-23T00:00:00 type: Date
  • date: 2012-02-23T00:00:00 docs: url: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg=EN&type_doc=COMfinal&an_doc=2012&nu_doc=71 celexid: CELEX:52012DC0071:EN type: Non-legislative basic document published title: COM(2012)0071 body: EC type: Non-legislative basic document commission:
  • body: EP date: 2012-05-16T00:00:00 type: EP officialisation
committees
  • body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee: IMCO
  • body: EP responsible: True committee_full: Legal Affairs committee: JURI
  • body: EP responsible: False committee_full: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee: LIBE
links
other
    procedure
    reference
    2012/2101(INI)
    title
    Improving access to justice: legal aid in cross-border civil and commercial disputes
    stage_reached
    Preparatory phase in Parliament
    subtype
    Initiative
    type
    INI - Own-initiative procedure
    subject