Comprehensive Legal Support - Expert Review Meeting Submits its Report
A private advisory body of the Minister of Justice, known as the “Expert Review Meeting on Measures to Achieve the Implementation of Comprehensive Legal Support,” which held its first meeting on March 18, 2014, compiled its report on June 11, 2014 after conducting six meetings.
The report can be summarized as follows:
1. With regard to legal support provided to the following persons in the civil legal aid system: (1) the elderly and persons with disabilities; (2) persons affected by large-scale disasters, and (3) users of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution).
Concerning (1) the elderly and persons with disabilities, it is necessary to review whether the scope of conducting free legal counseling to such persons who have limited financial resources should be expanded beyond that of regular users. In addition, legal support services concerning the adjustment of living conditions, etc., currently excluded from the present civil legal aid system, should be included in assistance with representation and the preparation of documents. With reference to (2) persons affected by large-scale disasters, in preparation for any possible large-scale natural disasters in the future, it is necessary to stipulate in the Comprehensive Legal Support Act, legal support measures, including free legal counseling services for persons, regardless of their financial status, and to establish a system in which legal aid can be promptly provided to disaster victims. As regards (3) users of ADR, it has been decided that arbitration-type ADR should not be covered by the civil legal aid system because, at the moment, there is insufficient need for this type of ADR.
2. Targeting cases of victims whose fundamental rights, namely the right to protection of their life, body, etc., have been violated by cases of domestic violence or stalking, etc. and where there is a possibility that such harmful acts may continue and lead to inflicting more serious damage to such persons, free legal consultation should be provided regardless of such person’s financial status. In addition, a free representation support system should also be provided in certain situations.
3. In reference to operations entrusted to the Japan Legal Support Center (“Hoterasu”), compared to the requirements for entrusting operations to other independent administrative agencies, those for Hoterasu tend to be strict, and such requirements for Hoterasu should be eased.
4. As for attorneys working as full-time staff attorneys at Hoterasu, such attorneys have a role in which they serve as a public benefit and as an organizational safety net, and they are expected to work in cooperation with non-staff attorneys of Hoterasu, etc. Further, in order for full-time staff attorneys at Hoterasu to function effectively, it is necessary for related institutions to acknowledge the effectiveness of their activities and their roles, etc. It is also necessary to acknowledge and review the fact that there are some issues which need to be resolved, such as the term, etc. of full-time staff attorneys.
As for the JFBA, from this time forth it will be necessary to address the legislative work to be performed in light of the contents of the compiled report set forth above.