Tuesday 31 January 2023

Lawyers could provide free services to people with incomes less than ¢924,000

Free legal service could only be applied to civil litigation or in inheritance matters

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31 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – A bill passed positively in the Legislative Committee on Legal Affairs would allow lawyers and notaries to provide free services, in civil proceedings, to people with incomes of less than ¢924,000 per month without being penalized.

Free legal service could only be applied to civil litigation or in inheritance matters

The bill, which received five votes in favor and one against, would reestablish the “benefit to poverty” in the legislation, a figure that was contemplated in the Civil Procedure Code before 2016.

This figure consisted of a person with few resources, according to a parameter determined by the Full Court, could request free legal assistance in civil litigation or in inheritance matters.

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In this bill, the figure would imply that Law professionals are not sanctioned by the Bar Association for not charging fees to people with incomes below ¢924,000 per month.

To determine the income of the person, the civil judges would have to deduct what the interested party spends on “the family home, legal actions, difficult collection credits, alimony, social benefits, nor tools, instruments essential for the exercise of the profession or office of the person requesting this grace”.

José María Villalta, promoter of the reform, acknowledged that the ceiling “is very high”, but affirmed that there is an agreement in the Commission to lower it via a motion to adjust.

On the other hand, as stipulated by the repealed rule, the current proposal says that the benefit can only be requested for certain processes and that litigant may not be obliged to guarantee the costs of the process, but neither may he demand that the opposing party or parties do so.

The bill is different from the procedural concept, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) warned the deputies, stating that the proposal changes the concept of obtaining the benefit of poverty, as was the case before, to establishing the right to obtain free legal and notarial services.

“The objective of this benefit was never to obtain free legal and notary services, as the legislative proposal seems to conceptualize, but only the possibility of the poor litigant not being obliged to make money deposits in cases where the law requires it (nor be forced to guarantee the costs of the process), except in the case of preventive embargo,” criticized the State attorney.

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Villalta, meanwhile, assured that his idea is that, with the authorization of a judge, a lawyer can voluntarily take free civil proceedings of people with limited resources who request to be declared in that condition of poverty.

“It implies that you are exempted from costs or bonds in civil proceedings. In civil matters, in general, there is no free public defense, there is no free legal profession paid for by the State. There are people with limited resources who cannot pay lawyers, this occurs a lot in succession proceedings, which is the clearest example, but it can also occur in civil proceedings where there is no public defense, ”argued the deputy.

However, the Social Christian

“The verb used in the project is‘ will ’. ‘They will’ it seems that people do have the right to receive it and someone will have an obligation to give it, ”said Muñoz.

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In the initial version of the project, it was contemplated to exempt lawyers and notaries from the obligation to comply with the fee rates issued by the Association.

However, the College objected. Faced with the complaint, Villalta chose to eliminate that part of the initiative until a more accurate proposal can be written that can be introduced in the review stage.

The affirmative vote was from legisaltors Franggi Nicolás and Wagner Jiménez, of the PLN; Carolina Hidalgo, of the PAC; Villalta and the independent Paola Vega. The negative came Pedro Muñoz, of the PUSC, who recommended changing the wording.

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