Lawyer Referral Service for Hague Convention Cases
Lawyer Referral Service for return of a child or access to a child, with the coming into force in Japan of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention)
Since April 1, 2014, the lawyer referral service of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) became to be available. The Japan’s Central Authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) receives an application for this lawyer referral service from a party to a Hague Convention case (case related to the return of one’s own child or a case related to access to one’s own child).
Lawyer Referral Service
Hague Convention cases may result in legal disputes regarding the return of a child, access to a child, or other matters between the parent who has taken his or her own child from a foreign country to Japan and does not return the child to its State of habitual residence and the parent whose own child has been taken and is not returned by the other parent.
In Japan, the family court has jurisdiction over such cases. The JFBA provides the lawyer referral service to people who need the assistance of a lawyer in a court proceedings or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings. The lawyer referral service is free of charge. (Legal fees are charged separately.)
The lawyer referral service is for people who either “have removed their own child to Japan from a foreign country (that is a Contracting State to the Hague Convention)” (so-called “taking parent” “TP”) or “have had their own child removed to Japan from a foreign country (that is a Contracting State to the Hague Convention)” (so-called “left behind parent””LBP”) and who also plan to use Japan’s family court proceedings or ADR proceedings to resolve the case with the assitance of a lawyer.
For details of this lawyer referral service for Hague Convention cases by the JFBA, refer to the information provided by Japan’s Central Authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Japan’s Central Authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “MOFA”) is in charge of handling inquiries and applications for this lawyer referral service. Be aware that the JFBA will not respond to inquiries or applications even if contacted directly.
After you submit an application to MOFA for the JFBA’s lawyer referral service, MOFA will send you a fax or an e-mail with the names and contact information of three lawyers. It usually takes about two weeks from submission of the application to referral of the lawyers.
Contact the lawyers yourself to discuss the legal services for your case, the accompanying legal fees, and other relevant matters, and enter into an engagement agreement with a lawyer after confirming such items. The JFBA cannot respond to questions regarding the legal services for your case, the accompanying legal fees, or other relevant matters even if contacted. Consult directly the lawyers reffered to you.
Lawyer Referral Process
Process after Lawyer Referral
This lawyer referral service is for those who seek a lawyer to perform the court proceedings or ADR proceedings. If you would like to consult with a lawyer before requesting his or her services for the court proceedings or ADR proceedings, inform the lawyer of that and have a consultation after confirming the consultation fee.
The JFBA’s lawyer referral service is available only once per applicant in principle.The service cannot be used a second time if, for example, the applicant did not request (engage) court proceedings or ADR proceedings because he or she had a difference in outlook or could not reach an agreement on legal fees with a lawyer.
Moreover, the lawyer referral service cannot be used a second time where the applicant received referrals once and had a consultation with the lawyer(s) but did not start court proceedings or ADR proceedings at that time and later wants to request (engage) such proceedings.
Q&A on the Lawyer Referral Service
Listed here are the answers to frequently asked questions about the JFBA’s lawyer referral service for Hague Convention cases. Check here to see if your question is included.
Q1. What kinds of lawyers are referred under the JFBA’s lawyer referral service?
We refer lawyers who have the following qualifications: three or more years of professional experience as a lawyer, experience handling child custody cases, English language proficiency, and specialized training.
Q2. Can you refer lawyers who have proficiency in a foreign language other than English?
We are unable in principle to refer lawyers with proficiency in a foreign language other than English.
Depending on the language, there may be cases where we can refer a lawyer proficient in the language you request; however, it is not possible for us at present to refer three such lawyers.
Q3. Will I be charged for contacting the lawyers you refer to me?
Contacting the lawyers is free if you simply contact the lawyers, state the services you would like to request (engagement agreement), and confirm the legal fees, etc. for such services. This assumes the contact is by telephone for a few minutes and does not assume a conversation of over 10 minutes.
You will be expected to cover the cost of contacting the lawyers, such as telephone charges.
* Points to keep in mind *
Contacting the lawyers is free if you give a brief outline of your case and ask about the legal fees based on that description. If the conversation is a legal consultation, however, you will normally be charged a fee.A legal consultation includes asking for the lawyer’s opinion on the outlook for your case, an explanation of the legal proceedings, and the options available for the legal proceedings. If you would like to have a legal consultation, do so after confirming the consultation fee with the lawyer.If, while talking with you, the lawyer deems the content of the conversation to fall under the category of a legal consultation, the lawyer will say in the middle of the conversation, “a consultation fee will be charged for further discussion of this matter.”
Feel free to ask the lawyer if you have concerns about what can be discussed free of charge and what incurs a consultation fee. In the case that a consultation fee will be charged, proceed with the conversation only after first confirming the fee and the method of payment with the lawyer.
Q4. I need background information on the lawyers in order to select one. Where can I obtain such information?Where can I obtain a detailed profile of the lawyers, including information on their level of English proficiency or on their professional experience and field of specialization to date (whether the lawyer has handled similar cases or cases involving my home country)? Is such information regarding the lawyers’ experience or profile provided free of charge?
Inquire with the lawyers directly if you require background information in order to make a selection. A telephone conversation about this should be kept to the length of a few minutes.
In most cases, inquiries regarding a lawyer’s experience or profile are handled free of charge. Please confirm directly with the lawyers.
Q5. I have received the information on the three lawyers and have contacted them, but I do not want to request (engage) the services of any of them. Will the JFBA refer other lawyers to me?
The JFBA lawyer referral service can be used only one time per applicant. If you do not want to request the services of any of the lawyers we have referred to you, you will need to search for a lawyer yourself.
Q6. I do not know at present whether I will request the services of a lawyer. Can I use the lawyer referral service just to find a lawyer for consultation?
For two weeks from the day on which the JFBA refers the lawyers, the lawyers will keep themselves available to take your case. If you only have a consultation with the lawyers referred and do not request (engage) their services, there is a possibility that the lawyer of your choice will not be able to take your case at a later date even if you want to request (engage) their services at that time.
The lawyer referral service can be used only one time per applicant so we recommend that you use it when you are seriously considering engagement.