▍1. Introduction of Legal Aid
Legal aid is an institutional assistance provided for people who need professional legal assistance but cannot afford litigation fees and lawyer charges. Such aid is provided to safeguard the Constitutional rights of people to litigation and equal protection. The “Legal Aid Act” was passed by the Legislative Yuan on Dec 23, 2003 to protect the rights of people who are not able to enjoy proper legal protection due to financial or other reasons, may be protected by such assistance as stated in Articles 5,6 and 8 of the Act, stipulating that Judicial Yuan shall make donations towards the establishment of the Legal Aid Foundation (hereinafter referred as the Foundation), and annual budgets shall be allocated to finance the stipulated funding and operations of the Foundation.
(2) Since the establishment of the Foundation in 2004, the Judicial Yuan has compiled a donation of 3.77 billion NTD for budgetary donation funds, and business operation funds of 12.39 billion NTD, totally 16.16 billion NTD. (Latest update: 2019)
(3) The Foundation has established 22 branch offices across the country, providing legal assistance to those who are financially disabled or cannot be protected by law for other reasons. By the date of Dec 31, 2007, a total number of 668,905 applications had been submitted, and 224,427 of them were granted legal assistance.
(4) Foundation Services
People who are financially disabled, or for other reasons cannot be properly protected under the Legal Aid Act, are eligible for legal aid by applying to their nearest branch office of the Foundation. Once an application is accepted, the Foundation shall assign competent lawyers to provide legal assistance for litigation, extra-judicial settlements, arbitration and\or to serve as the agent, defender or assistant (for all kinds of civil, family, criminal, administrative matters as well as providing accompany service to the first-time interrogation by the police or the prosecutor), or to help with preparing legal documents (written pleadings or lawyer’s letter) of mediation and extra-judicial settlements, or to give legal advice (by phone-calls, face to face consultations, video calls) etc..
(5) Other Assistance Programs
The Foundation has set up a number of special projects to provide more comprehensive care and assistance to those in need, such as the programs for “lawyer accompaniment to the first interrogation”, “consumer debt clearance”, “expanding legal advice”, “lawyer accompaniment to the first interrogation for indigenous people”, “accompaniment by lawyers regarding habeas corpus”. The Foundation is also entrusted to handle the “Labor Litigation Legal Assistance Program” of the Ministry of Labor, the “Indigenous Legal Support Program” of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, and the “Legal Assistance for the Physically or Mentally Disabled Persons Program” of the Ministry of Health and Welfare to effectively integrate limited resources so as to protect the rights and interests of the disadvantaged minority.
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▍2. Overview of Supervision of Management of the Judicial Yuan
According to Article 56-58 of the Legal Aid Act, the Judicial Yuan shall review and supervise the annual work plan, budget, work report, final report and property inventory of the Foundation. The Judicial Yuan may also direct the Foundation to provide reports on its business, accounting and property related matters; and may send staff for inspection of its business, accounting books and other documents to ensure smooth operations and sound development. In accordance with the provisions of Article 60, the Judicial Yuan may formulate measures and regulations for supervisions and management in order to regulate matters such as use of funds, quality of legal assistance provided, and major annual measures, further ensuring the sound development of the Foundation.
(2) Measures of Supervision
According to the Regulation Governing the Supervision and Management of the Legal Aid Foundation (hereinafter the Regulation), the Judicial Yuan shall set up a Supervision and Management Committee for the Foundation (hereinafter the Committee), implementing the supervision, management and auditory matters as stated in the Supervision & Management Regulation. The Supervision & Management Committee shall be constituted by 9 members including experts with legal, accounting or other specialized knowledge, apart from the Deputy Secretary-General and Director-Generals of Departments appointed by the Judicial Yuan. A "Regulatory and Business Supervision Team" and "Financial Accounting Supervision Team" shall set up to assist with all administrative matters to respond to the needs of the Supervision & Management Committee.
(3) Matters of Supervision
According to Article 3, 4 of the Regulation, matters of supervision include: approval for establishment, status of organization and facilities, annual major measures, property, funds, use and custody of interests, financial status, business status, quality of legal service, and other matters that should be subject to supervision according to the law as well as measures formulated by the Foundation according to the Act of Legal Aid and regulations authorized by donation and organization of the Foundation.
Since the first review meeting of the Supervision Committee on June 18, 2004, a monthly meeting is held, and 141 meetings had been held as of August 2019, to review the regulations, annual work plans, budget, working reports, set or amend by the Foundation, assisting towards a more comprehensive regulation and operation method. All decisions and advice of the Committee are continuously tracked and managed by the Judicial Yuan, and the Foundation is required to report on the latest implementation at each regulatory meeting.
The Foundation may be required to submit special reports for major measures that affect the quality of provided legal aid, business operations and use of funds. For instnace, equal assignment of cases for pro-bono lawyers, legal aid projects entrusted by other government organs, and the effectiveness report on the anniversary of establishment of the Legal Service Center of Indigenous Peoples.
(4) Business Inspections
According to Article 57 of the Legal Aid Act, in order to supervise on the functional operation of the Foundation, the Judicial Yuan may require the Foundation to submit reports on its business operations, accounting and property matters. The Judicial Yuan may also dispatch an observer to inspection on the operation and require the Foundation to provide relevant documents, books and other materials for inspection. Article 17 of the Regulation also states that the Judicial Yuan may require the Foundation to submit oral or written reports on the aforementioned matters, and perform regular and irregular inspections.
Since the establishment of the Foundation in 2004, annual inspections were performed by “Regulatory and Business Supervision Team” and “Financial Accounting Supervision Team” led by the Director-General or Deputy Director-General of the Department of Judicial Administration. Inspections were performed at the headquarters and branches of the Foundation. Matters of inspection are the business and financial operations. Business operation matters include formulation of regulations, appellate cases , procurement, auditing grievance, complaints, lawyer's remuneration and dispatch process, lawyer's case control mechanism, various types of project handling, full-time lawyer system and its handling of the cases, lawyer’s evaluation system, guarantee retrieval control mechanism and the handling of the resolutions passed by the Legislative Yuan in recent years. Financial matters include the preparation of accounting monthly report, accounting vouchers, accounting book processing, fund mobilization procedures, cashier affairs, article management, related financial regulations, and the receipt of the guarantee, recovery of contribution, feedback fund, reimbursement, return of the remuneration, personnel travel expenses report, overtime pay report, and the receivables of lawyers' reimbursement. The headquarter is inspected annually while branches, except for those who deem necessary, are rotated for inspections. Inspection frequency has beenincreased from 3 years/cycle to 2 years/cycle staring from 2013, to discover in a timely manner any operational problems of the Foundation.
All deficits discovered upon inspections are to be compiled into a written report and sent to the Foundation for review and improvement. Most of the matters proposed by the inspection personnel have been reviewed and improved by the Foundation. The Judicial Yuan shall continue tracking and management on matters requiring further discussions and reviews.
- Release Date : 2019-11-01
- Update : 2019-11-01