The China-EU Access to Justice Programme (2013-17) is assisting the Chinese Ministry of Justice in improving effectiveness of legal aid service delivery with a particular focus on outreach to vulnerable groups and to people living in outlying districts. The Chinese counterparts for the programme are the National Legal Aid Centre, run on a national level within the Ministry of Justice and based in Beijing, and Provincial Legal Aid Centres in three provinces: Henan, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi.
There are three main components to the programme:
- Dialogue between European and Chinese experts on law and policy development;
- Capacity-building for legal aid service providers;
- Introduction of good and promising legal aid practices from Europe or elsewhere in China, through a series of pilot activities to be conducted at selected sites in the three target provinces.
China-EU Legal Aid High Level Policy Dialogue Conference
The 4th Session of China-EU Legal Aid Policy Dialogue was held in Beijing from June 28 through June 30 2017. This meeting, with the theme of “legal aid – facing the future”, focuses on such topics as the orientation of legal aid modernization, the quality and efficiency of legal aid services, developments in legal aid law and policy, legal aid for groups with special needs, the innovation and future progress of legal aid, and so on.
The meeting has drawn attention to some of the outputs of the China-EU project: tool kits, research reports and recommendations for follow-up to pilot activities.
Selected Chinese and European experts who have been involved in project activities will be invited to update participants on the most recent developments in law, policy and practice in their jurisdictions.
The primary focus of the meeting is discussing the future of legal aid and legal aid systems, taking as a starting point current discussions regarding Chinese legal aid policy development.
The European participants are a mixture of representatives from State legal aid authorities, representatives from social organisations, legal aid lawyers and academics specialising in access to justice and / or legal aid in the European context, including Mr. Peter van den Biggelaar, Former Chief Executive Officer of the Dutch Legal Aid Board; Mr. Steven Gibens, a researcher within the Faculty of Law at the University of Antwerp and and a lecturer at University College Charlemagne; Professor Alan Paterson, Chair of the International Legal Aid Group; Peer Reviewer and Research Advisor to the Scottish Legal Aid Board; Director of Centre for Legal Professional Studies, University of Strathclyde (Glasgow), United Kingdom; Dr. Lindsay Montgomery, Formerly Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, now visiting lecturer at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow; Mr. Olaf Halvorsen Rønning, Ph.D Candidate at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo; Mr. Carlos M.G. de Melo Marinho, Court of Appeal Judge and Senior Expert on European and International Judicial Cooperation and e-Justice; Mr. Dirk Hinne, Member of the Remuneration Committee of the Federal Bar Association, Germany; Ms. Ruth Wayte, Principal Legal Officer, Legal Aid Agency of England and Wales, Great Britain; Ms. Monika Mayrhofer, Researcher at Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, University of Vienna, Austria. Also European Union Delegation and other five European embassies such as Austria, Fenland, Demark, Romania, and Netherland attended the meeting.
The Chinese participants for the meeting are drawn from National Legal Aid Centre of Ministry of Justice, from Henan and Shanxi Bureaux of Justice / Legal Aid Centres and 17 selected Provincial Legal Aid Centres and about 20 social organisations involved in delivery of legal aid services and / or cooperation with legal aid service providers.