Suspects or accused who do not have sufficient means to pay for Counsel are entitled to legal aid. Legal aid is also provided to pay for Counsel for victims participating in the proceedings. The Legal Aid Regulations can be found here.
Legal aid for suspects or accused
A suspect or accused who requests legal aid has to prove that he or she does not have the means to pay for legal representation.
In applying for legal aid through the Defence Office, the applicant has to disclose certain information, including:
personal financial means and assets, as well as employment history;
any kind of financial, social or family benefits, or benefits he or she receives based on Kosovo Law No. 05/L-054;
any other governmental or non-governmental contributions to his or her legal representation;
information on any immovable and movable property and financial commitments;
the means of his or her spouse;
the means of members of his or her household; and
the means of any other financially associated persons.
The Defence Office (‘DO’) will conduct a thorough indigence assessment based on the information provided. The amount that a suspect or accused can contribute to his or her legal representation will be calculated taking into account the applicant’s disposable financial means, minus his or her estimated living expenses. Based on this assessment, the DO will make a recommendation to the Registrar who will decide whether to grant legal aid, and if so, whether in whole or in part.
In order to ensure the rights of a suspect or accused, the Registrar may conditionally assign Counsel to the suspect or accused until a decision on legal aid is issued.
A suspect or an accused who has been granted legal aid has an obligation up to five years after the end of the last stage of the proceedings in his or her case(s) to inform the DO of any change to his or her means that could significantly affect the decision on legal aid.
Legal aid for victims
The Victims’ Participation Office (‘VPO’) will file a request with the Registrar to provide Counsel to a group of participating victims. If the Registrar has reason to believe that a victim has significant means, the VPO may conduct an indigence assessment to determine if a victim can contribute to the costs of representation.
Legal aid may also be awarded to any person other than a suspect, an accused, or a group of victims who is entitled to legal representation and can prove full or partial indigence.