Case in brief: the applicant, whose monthly income amounted to 40 EUR, was refused legal aid
Outcome of the case: the court ordered to provide the applicant with the legal aid
Facts of the case:
A.A. – a disabled woman who after her release from prison continued paying the damages awarded by the court. For that purpose, 85 per cent of her disability allowance was deducted, leaving her to survive with 40 EUR/month. A.A., intending to go to court for the review of the damages policy, filed a request for legal aid with Panevezys Office of the State-Guaranteed Legal Aid.
The Panevezys Office refused to provide her with completely free legal assitance quoting the 19 January 2010 protocol of the Legal Aid chamber. According to the Protocol, “the bailiffs enforcement of debt recovery should not be regarded as an objective reason for the applicant not to be able to dispose the income/funds”.
The Human Rights Monitoring Institute after assessing the strategic significance of the A.A. case – a direct impact on potentially large number of people and an obvious violation of the right to legal representation – was advising the applicant during the court proceedings.
A.A. appealed to Panevezys District Administrative Court the decision of Panevezys Legal Aid Office to grant her only partly-paid legal representation. In July 2010, the Court overruled the decision of Panevezys Legal Aid Office and ordered to grant the applicant free legal representation, covering 100 per cent of expences.
The Panevezys Legal Aid Office appealed the ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania. On 2 May 2011, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania in a final and conclusive ruling dismissed the Panevezys Legal Aid Office appeal. The Court concluded that A.A. proved that due to the objective reasons she could not dispose all her assets and funds and that the remaining amount, by which she could dispose, did not exceeded the assets and income level, regulated by Government, giving it the right to receive a free of charge legal aid.