This article provides an overview of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on issues of legal aid provided by appointed advocates to people charged with criminal offence. The focus of the article are the ECtHR judgments in cases against Russia and, in particular, recent judgment in case Vasenin v. Russia. The analysis of mentioned judgments intends to identify the ECtHR requirements to the quality of legal aid on criminal cases. Qualityof legal aid is an issue which is relatively rarely examined by the ECtHR. In judgments, including those delivered on applications against Russia, the Court more often elaborates upon the same opportunity to enjoy right to legal aid, or upon conditions of defense, such as confidential communication between accused and appointed lawyer or facilities and time necessary for appointed advocate to study the case-file. At the same time, it is not sufficient to appoint an advocate and open access to the defendant and to respective case files. Quality of assistance is also an important aspect of right to legal aid. Courts or other competent officials should react when the quality of defense provided by appointed lawyer is manifestly low. Domestic authorities in cooperation with professional legal community should also take measures to maintain a proper quality of defense. The ECtHR position on this issue is quite important, especially in the light of ongoing discussion on the quality of assistance provided by appointed advocates, which is taking place within the Russian legal community. The article compares requirements formulated by the ECtHR with approaches to protect and ensure quality of criminal legal aid in Russia.
About the author
Olga Shepeleva- Ph.D. student, Department of Judicial Power and Justice Administration, Higher School of Economics.
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