The 13th meeting of the National Co-ordination Body for the implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid (NCB) in North Macedonia, took place in Skopje to discuss the progress and important challenges regarding the implementation of Free Legal Aid system in North Macedonia.
Organised in the framework of the continuous support that EU and Council of Europe are providing to improve the Free Legal Aid services for the citizens of North Macedonia, the event gathered around 36 participants from the key institutions in the field of free legal aid including the Ministry of Justice and its Regional Offices (ROs), Bar Association, lawyers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Legal Clinics authorised for providing free legal aid. Additional 25 participants joint the event online.
The meeting was welcomed by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Muhamed Toci, the Head of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Skopje, Mr. Oleg Soldatov and the representative from the Delegation of the European Union in Skopje, Ms. Marzia Palotta. They stressed the importance of the work of the National Co-ordination Body as an important co-operation and co-ordination mechanism ensuring improved access to justice for the citizens through advanced inter-institutional co-ordination.
The NCB members discussed the recent adoption of the new Law on Court Expertise and the transformation of the Bureau for Court Expertise into a Bureau for Asset Valuation as well as its impact on the secondary legal aid provided in accordance with the Law on Free Legal aid. In this direction, the participants agreed that changes in the Law on Free Legal Aid are urgently needed to improve the functioning of the FLA system.
The participants also agreed on the establishment of a Working Group by the Ministry of Justice to start working on the amendments on the Law on Free Legal Aid without delay.
During the meeting the discussion were focused also on the models for integration of mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolusions into the national legal aid systems in accordance with best EU standards. Mr. Victor Zaharia, international consultant of the Council of Europe and President of the Legal Aid Board in Moldova presented the specifics and challenges of the legal aid system in Moldova.
The National Co-ordination Body will continue its work and commitment towards achieving better co-ordination and communication among the main actors in the Free Legal Aid system in future. NCB’s capacities will continue to be further strengthened to become entirely self-sustainable in the future.
The action “Towards a consolidated and more efficient Free Legal Aid (FLA) system in North Macedonia” is part from the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye III”, a joint European Union and Council of Europe programme implemented by the Council of Europe.