Euro Council gives legal aid a boost

Formal agreement has been secured by the EU Council of Ministers over a new legal aid directive, which would ease access to justice for litigants in cross-border civil and commercial disputes

Member states (except for Denmark, which has opted out) will be bound to provide financial support to citizens who cannot afford legal advice for such cases held within the EU, unless governments deem that such actions are “manifestly unfounded”.

The legislation will impose common rules for member states to deal with legal aid inquiries, which will cover any court or tribunal. It will not, however, help applications for assistance in customs, revenue, or administrative matters. Also, if an out-of-court deal is offered in a case, national governments may decide to withhold legal aid, depending on the details.