Traditionally, in many countries, lawyers have engaged themselves as one of the tasks of the civil service associated with the exercise of the right to also grant legal aid in civil matters. In 1958, the International Bar Association sponsored the organization of the International Legal Aid Association, whose purpose is (1) to compile and maintain a register of legal aid organizations, (2) to collect and disseminate information both on the services provided by these organizations and on the laws and other regulations governing legal aid in different countries, (3) establish referral bodies on the basis of mutual service between cooperating bodies and (4) promote the establishment of legal aid services in all countries where they are needed and cooperate with bar associations, the judiciary, social services and other international organisations interested in extending and improving legal aid and defence services. The need for such an international organization was recognized in 1924 by the League of Nations and later by the International Red Cross and other international organizations concerned with social welfare, especially migration. Legal aid, professional legal aid, people in need who need it, is provided free of charge or for a small fee. In criminal matters, most countries – especially those where a person accused of a crime enjoys a presumption of innocence – offer the services of a lawyer to those who do not have sufficient resources. In some countries, defence offices with salaried personnel, public or private, have proven to be the most economical solution. In other countries, where there is no shortage of lawyers trained in criminal law and litigation practice, private lawyers take on this task by being appointed by the court or selected by the accused himself. In many countries, these private lawyers receive little or no small fee, which is paid either by the state or by charitable funds. In an increasing number of countries, the provision by the State of sufficient funds to pay reasonable costs and cover all related expenses is considered necessary to ensure that the person receiving such assistance receives an adequate service. Kayliegh Richardson, Northumbria University, Associate Professor of Law, Newcastle; Faculty Director, Centre for Access to Justice, Georgia State University Postdoctoral Fellow, Geraldine Van Bueren University of Brighton, Queen Mary University of London.

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