The constitutional content of the right to qualified legal assistance is considered by the author in terms of relevant problems of advocacy reform, including those related to the implementation of mechanisms for access to legal representation not only by advocates, but also by lawyers who are currently providing commercial legal services. The author gives an interpretation of the right to legal aid, its unrestricted nature, and compares it with an absolute right to judicial protection, the right to defense counsel in criminal proceedings, and the right to free legal assistance. The importance of the principles of organization and operation of the advocacy community as an independent self-regulatory and self-governed non-profit organization is emphasized, as well as of the principles of adversarial proceedings as the basis for the constitutional institution of legal aid. Threats to the status of human rights protectors and to constitutional development of the system of legal assistance by reform of the “market for legal services” arising from concepts in the “Justice” program of the Russian Federation government are analyzed. The author considers constitutionally grounded options for financing mandatory defense in criminal cases.
About the author: Tamara Morshchakova – Head of Chair of Judicial Branch, National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Doctor of Law, International Commission of Jurists Member