SGLA IN CROSS-BORDER DISPUTES

A cross-border dispute means a dispute in which the applicant, at the moment of submitting an application for the provision of state-guaranteed legal aid, is domiciled or habitually resident in a member state of the European Union other than the one where the proceedings take place or where enforcement is sought. The member state of the European Union in which the applicant is domiciled is determined according to Article 59 of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

The provisions of the Republic of Lithuania Law on State-Guaranteed Legal Aid regulating the provision of state-guaranteed legal aid in cross-border disputes are applied to state-guaranteed legal aid in cross-border disputes in civil and commercial matters irrespective of the nature of the court. These provisions do not extend to tax, customs or administrative matters.

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania is the institution of the Republic of Lithuania (“the receiving authority”) authorised to receive applications for the provision of state-guaranteed legal aid in cross-border disputes (“an application for legal aid”) from the competent authorities of the member states of the European Union.

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania is the institution of the Republic of Lithuania (“the transmitting authority”) authorised to transmit applications for the provision of state-guaranteed legal aid to the competent authorities of other member states of the European Union.

Specifics of state-guaranteed legal aid in cross-border disputes where the Ministry of Justice is the receiving authority

An applicant has the right to submit an application for legal aid either to the competent authority of the member state of the European Union in which the applicant is domiciled or habitually resident or directly to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, if the proceedings are to take place at the court of the Republic of Lithuania or if the decision is to be enforced in the Republic of Lithuania.

Applications for legal aid and the documents attesting to a person’s eligibility for state-guaranteed legal aid submitted to the receiving authority must be translated into the Lithuanian language or another language which the Republic of Lithuania has indicated it can accept to the Commission of the European Communities (English). These documents are exempt from legalisation and any equal formality.

Upon the receipt of an application for legal aid from the competent authority of another member state of the European Union, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania must, within 30 days of the receipt of the application and all the necessary documents, examine it and take a decision on the transmission of the application to the relevant executive institution of a municipality or to the State-Guaranteed Legal Aid Service. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania has the right to refuse to transmit the application where not all the documents referred to in the Law have been submitted. If Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania decides to refuse to transmit the application, it should immediately notify the applicant.

The executive institution of a municipality or the State-Guaranteed Legal Aid Service must notify the applicant of the decision taken on the provision of state-guaranteed legal aid. Where an application for legal aid is rejected, the reasons for such a decision must be specified. The decision to refuse legal aid may be appealed against in accordance with the procedure laid down by laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

Specifics of state-guaranteed legal aid in cross-border disputes where the Ministry of Justice is the transmitting authority

If the proceedings take place at the court of another member state of the European Union or the decision is enforced in another member state of the European Union, the applicant who is domiciled or habitually resident in the Republic of Lithuania has the right to submit an application for legal aid and the documents attesting to his/her eligibility for legal aid either directly to the competent authority of the member state of the European Union concerned or through the transmitting authority – the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania.

The documents should be translated into the official language or one of the official languages of another member state of the European Union which corresponds to one of the languages of the Community institutions or into another language which that member state of the European Union has indicated it can accept to the Commission of the European Communities.

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania shall have the right to refuse to transfer an application for legal aid where the application is manifestly unfounded or is outside the scope of the provisions of the Republic of Lithuania Law on State-Guaranteed Legal Aid regulating state-guaranteed legal aid in cross-border disputes. If the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania decides to refuse to transfer the application for legal aid, it should specify the reasons of such refusal to the applicant. Such decision may be appealed against in accordance with the procedure laid down by laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania must notify the applicant of the documents which are required in order to consider the application for legal aid in another member state of the European Union and should ensure translation of the application and of the documents attesting to the person’s eligibility for legal aid. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania must send the application for legal aid and the documents attesting to the person’s eligibility for legal aid to the competent authority of another member state of the European Union within 15 days of the receipt of translations of the application and of the documents attesting to the person’s eligibility for legal aid.

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania should carry out these actions free of charge. If the competent authority of another member state of the European Union rejects an application for legal aid, the applicant must repay the costs of translation of the application and of the documents attesting to the person’s eligibility for legal aid borne by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania.

An applicant who received legal aid in another member state of the European Union where the proceedings took place has the right to receive state-guaranteed legal aid according to the Republic of Lithuania Law on State-Guaranteed Legal Aid, if recognition or enforcement of the decision is sought in the Republic of Lithuania.

LINKS:

  • Application form for legal aid in another member state of the European Union;
  • Form for legal aid application in another member state of the European Union;
  • Website of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters;
  • European Judicial Atlas in civil matters.
 
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