Promulgation Date: 2021-8-20 Title: Legal Aid Law of the PRC Document Number: Expiration date: Promulgating Entities: Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Source of text: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/c30834/202108/f48b07e43e8a41e7b7f8bc2e54000fc0.shtml
Chapter I: General Provisions
Chapter II: Institutions and Personnel
Chapter III: Form and Scope
Chapter IV: Procedures and Implementation
Chapter V: Safeguards and Oversight
Chapter VI: Legal Responsibility
Chapter VII: Supplementary Provisions
Legal Aid Law of the PRC
Chapter I: General Provisions
Article 1: This law is drafted so as to regulate and promote legal aid efforts, safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens and relevant parties, ensure the correct implementation of law, and preserve social fairness and justice.
Article 2: "Legal aid" as used in this law is a system established by the state to provide citizens financial hardship or parties that meet the legally-prescribed requirements with free legal consultation, representation, criminal defense, and other legal services, and is a component of the public legal services system.
Article 3: Legal aid work is to uphold the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, persist in being people-centered, respect and protect human rights, comply with the principles of openness, fairness, and equity; and combine state safeguards with public participation.
Article 4: People's governments at the county level or above shall include legal aid work in the people's economic and social development plans and in basic public service systems, to ensure the coordinated development of legal aid matters, the economy, and society.
people's governments at the county level or above complete systems of safeguards for legal aid, including expenses related to legal aid in that level of government's budgets, establishing mechanisms for dynamic adjustments, ensuring the needs of legal aid work, and promoting the balanced development of legal aid.
Article 5: The State Council's judicial administrative department is to guide and oversee the nation's legal aid efforts. The judicial administrative departments of local people's Governments at the county level or above are to guide and oversee legal aid efforts in the corresponding administrative region.
Other relevant departments of people's governments at the county level or above are to provide support and assurances for legal aid work in accordance with their respective duties.
Article 6: Within the scope of their respective duties, the people's courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organs shall ensure that parties receive legal aid in accordance with law and facilitate the work carried out by legal aid personnel.
Article 7: lawyers associations shall guide and support law firms' and lawyers' participation in legal aid work.
Article 8: The state is to encourage and support people's organizations, public institutions, and social organizations lawfully providing legal aid with the guidance of the judicial administrative departments.
Article 9: The State is to encourage and supports social forces such as enterprises and public institutions, social organizations, and individuals providing support to public institutions for legal aid through means such as making donations in accordance with law, and where requirements are me, they are to give tax benefits in accordance with law.
Article 10: The judicial administrative departments shall carry out regular publicity and education on legal aid to spread knowledge of legal aid.
News media shall carry out public interest publicity on legal aid to and increate public opinion oversight.
Article 11: The state is to give commendations and rewards to organizations and individuals making outstanding contributions in legal aid work.
Chapter II: Institutions and Personnel
Article 12: The judicial administrative departments of people's governments at the county level or above shall establish legal aid institutions. Legal aid institutions are responsible for organizing the implementation of legal aid work, accepting and reviewing applications for legal aid, and appointing lawyers, basic-level legal service workers, legal aid volunteers, and other legal aid personnel, and to provide legal aid, and paying legal aid compensation.
Article 13: As required for work, legal aid institutions may arrange for staff with lawyers credentials or legal professional credentials to provide legal aid, and may set up legal aid work stations or contact points for the easy acceptance of applications for legal aid.
Article 14: Legal aid institutions may station duty lawyers in people's courts, people's procuratorates, detention centers, and other such places, to provide legal aid to criminal suspects or defendants who do not have defenders.
Article 15: Judicial administrative departments may use measures such as government procurement of services to select of law firms and other such legal service institutions to provide legal aid to recipients.
Article 16: Law firms, basic-level legal service centers, lawyers, and basic-level legal service workers have the obligation to provide legal aid in accordance with law.
Law firms and basic-level legal service centers shall support and safeguard their lawyers and basic-level legal service workers' performance of legal aid obligations.
Article 17: The state is to encourage and regulate legal aid volunteer services, and support eligible volunteers in providing legal aid in accordance with law.
Institutions of higher learning and scientific research bodies may organize persons engaged in legal education and research and students majoring in law to serve as legal aid volunteers, providing legal assistance for parties under the guidance of the judicial administrative organs such as legal consultation and drafting legal documents.
The specific management measures for legal aid volunteers are to be provided by the relevant departments of the State Council.
Article 18: The state is to establish and complete mechanisms for the flow of legal service resources across regions, and is to encourage and support legal service centers, lawyers, legal aid volunteers, and so forth in providing legal aid in regions where there is a relative shortage of legal service resources.
Article 19: Legal aid personnel shall lawfully perform their duties to promptly provide the service recipients with legal aid services that meet standards, to protect the lawful rights and interests of the service recipients.
Article 20: Legal aid personnel shall comply with professional ethics and practice discipline, and must not accept any property from recipients.
Article 21: legal aid institutions and legal aid personnel who become aware of state secrets, commercial secrets, or private personal information during the course of employing technical investigative measures shall preserve their confidentiality.
Chapter III: Form and Scope
Article 22: Legal aid institutions may organize legal aid personnel to lawfully provide the legal aid services in the following forms:
(1) Legal Consultation;
(2) preparation of legal documents;
(3) defense and representation;
(4) Representation in litigation and non-litigation matters for civil cases, administrative cases, and state compensation cases;
(5) Duty Lawyer Legal Assistance;
(6) Representation in mediation and arbitration on labor disputes;
(7) other forms as provided by laws, regulations, or rules.
Article 23: legal aid institutions shall provide legal consultation services through diverse methods such as service kiosks, phone, and internet; and alert parties that they enjoy the right to apply for legal aid in accordance with law, and notifying them of the requirements and procedures for applications.
Article 24: Criminal suspects and defendants in criminal cases that have not retained a defender due to financial hardship or other reasons, and their families, may apply to the legal aid institutions for legal aid.
Article 25: Where the criminal suspects or defendants in criminal cases belong to any of the following and have not retained a defender, the people's courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organs shall notify the legal aid institutions to appoint a lawyer to serve as a defender.
(2) Persons with a visual, audial, or speech disability;
(3) Adults who cannot fully recognize their own conduct;
(4) Persons who might be sentenced to life imprisonment or death;
(5) Defendants in death penalty review cases who apply for legal aid;
(6) Defendants in criminal cases tried in absentia;
(7) Others as provided for in laws and regulations.
In other criminal cases applying the ordinary procedures at trial, where the defendant has not retained a defender, the people's courts may inform the legal aid institutions to appoint a lawyer to serve as their defender.
Article 26: For persons who might be sentenced to life imprisonment or death, as well as defendants in death penalty review cases, after the legal aid institutions receive notice from the people's courts, people's procuratorate, or public security organs, they shall appoint a lawyer with 3 or more years experience in practice to serve as the defender.
Article 27: When people courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organ notify the legal aid organizations to appoint a lawyer to serve as a defender, they must not restrict or harm the criminal suspects' or defendants' right to retain a defender.
Article 28: Where the subject of an application for compulsory treatment or defendant has not retained an agent ad litem, the people's courts shall notify a legal aid organization to appoint a lawyer to provide them with legal aid.
Article 29: Where the victims in public prosecution cases as well as their legal representatives and families, the private prosecutor in a private prosecution case and their legal representative, and the plaintiffs in civil litigation attached to a criminal case and their legal representative have not retained an agent ad litem due to financial hardship or other reasons, they may apply for legal aid to the legal aid institutions.
Article 30: Duty lawyers shall provide criminal suspects or defendants who do not have a defender with legal assistance such as legal consultation, suggestions on procedural selection, applications for modification of compulsory measures, and submitting opinions on the case handling in accordance with law.
Article 31: In the following matters, where parties have not retained a representative due to financial hardship, they may apply to the legal aid institution for legal aid:
(1) Requests for state compensation in accordance with law;
(2) Requests for social insurance benefits or social assistance;
(3) Requests for bereavement benefits;
(4) Claims for payment of alimony, support, or maintenance;
(5) requests for determination of labor relationships or payment of labor compensation;
(6) Requests for a determination that citizens lack or have limited civil capacity;
(7) Requests for compensation of physical harms from job injuries, traffic accidents, food or drug safety accidents, or medical accidents;
(8) Requests for compensation for pollution and ecological destruction;
(9) Other situations as provided for by laws, regulations, or rules.
Article 32: in any of the following circumstances where parties apply for legal aid, they are not subject to the financial hardship requirement:
(1) The families of heroes and martyrs protecting the personality rights of the heroes and martyrs;
(2) Claims for civil rights and interests arising from acts of samaritanship;
(3) requests for state compensation after being found not guilty through retrial and judgment change;
(4) Advocating civil rights by those who have suffered abuse, abandonment, or domestic violence;
(6) Other situations as provided for by laws, regulations, or rules.
Article 33: Where parties are not satisfied with the effective judgment of a judicial organ, decide to submit a collateral appeal, or apply for retrial, and the people's court makes a decision or ruling for retrial, or the people's procuratorate raises a procuratorial counter-appeal, and the party has not retained a defender or agent ad litem due to financial hardship, they and their families may apply to the legal aid institution for legal aid.
Article 34: The standards for financial hardship are to be determined by provincial, autonomous region, or directly governed municipality people's governments based on the administrative region's state of economic development and legal aid needs, and dynamic adjustment is to be carried out.
Chapter IV: Procedures and Implementation
Article 35: The people's courts, people's procuratorates, public security organs, and other authorized departments shall promptly notify citizens of their right to apply for legal aid in accordance with law when handling cases or other matters.
Article 36: Where people's courts, people's procuratorates, or public security organs that are handling criminal cases discover the circumstances provided for in the first paragraph of article 25 or article 28 of this Law, they shall notify the legal aid institution to appoint a lawyer within 3 days. After receiving the notice, the legal aid institution shall appoint lawyers within 3 days and notify the people's court, people's procuratorate, or public security organs.
Article 37: The people's courts, people's procuratorates, and public security organs shall safeguard duty lawyers' provision of legal assistance in accordance with law, inform criminal suspects or defendants who do not have a defender of their right to meet a duty lawyer, and provide facilitation for parties to meet with duty lawyers and for duty lawyers to learn about the case, access the case file, and have meetings.
Article 38: For legal aid in litigation matters, the applicants' applications for legal aid are to be submitted to the legal aid institution for the area where the case-handling organs are located; for legal aid in non-litigation matters, applications are to be submitted to the legal aid institutions for either the place where the organs handling the dispute are located, or where the cause of action arose.
Article 39:Where detained criminal suspects or defendants, persons serving a criminal sentence, and persons in compulsory isolated drug treatment submit applications for legal aid, the case-handling organs or place of incarceration shall send the application to the legal aid institutions within 24 hours.
Where criminal suspects or defendants apply for legal aid such as representation or criminal defense through the duty lawyers, the duty lawyers shall transfer the application to the legal aid institutions within 24 hours.
Article 40: Where a person who lacks or has a limited capacity for civil action requires legal aid, their legal representative may apply on their behalf. Where the legal representatives violate the lawful rights and interests of persons lacking or with limited civil capacity, other legal representatives or family members may submit an application for legal aid on their behalf.
Detained criminal suspects or defendants, persons serving a criminal sentence, and persons in compulsory isolated drug treatment may have their legal representative or family members submit their application for legal aid on their behalf.
Article 41: Where legal aid is applied for due to financial hardship, the applicants shall truthfully explain their financial hardships.
Legal aid institutions verifying applicants' financial hardship may make inquiries through information sharing or have the applicant make a personal pledge of creditworthiness.
Relevant departments, units, villagers' committees, residents' committees, and individuals shall cooperate with legal aid institutions' carrying out verification work.
Article 42: Where applicants for legal aid have materials showing that they belong to the following categories of person, the verification of financial hardship may be waived:
(1) Designated groups such as minors, the elderly, and persons with disabilities who lack a fixed source of livelihood;
(2) Subjects of social assistance, judicial aid, or support;
(3) Migrant workers applying for payment of wages or requesting compensation of injuries from workplace injuries;
(4) Other persons as provided by laws, regulations, and rules.
Article 43: Legal aid institution shall conduct a review and make a decision on whether to give legal aid within 7 days of receiving an application for legal aid. Where a decision is made to give legal aid, legal aid personnel shall be appointed with three days of the decision to provide legal aid to the recipient; and where their decision is to not give legal aid, the applicant shall be notified in writing and the applicant and the reasons are to be explained.
Where the application materials provided by applicants are incomplete, the legal aid institution shall inform the applicant a single time that they need to supplement the materials, or request that the applicant make an explanation. Where applicants do not supplement the materials or provide an explanation as requested, it is viewed as a revocation of the application.
Article 44: Legal aid institutions discovering any of the following circumstances after receiving an application for legal aid may decide to provide legal aid in advance:
(1) the statute of limitations or time limit is less than 7 days away, and it is necessary to promptly initiate litigation or apply for arbitration or administrative reconsideration;
(2) It is necessary to immediately apply for preservation of assets, preservation of evidence, or advance enforcement;
(3) Other situations as provided for by laws, regulations, or rules.
Where legal aid is provided in advance, the aid recipient shall promptly make up the relevant formalities and supplement the relevant materials.
Article 45: Where legal aid institutions provide legal aid services to the elderly or persons with disabilities, they shall provide no-barrier facilities, equipment, and services based on the actual circumstances.
Where laws and regulations have other special provisions on the provision of legal aid to designated groups, follow those provisions.
Article 46: After legal aid personnel accept an appointment, they must not refuse, delay, or terminate the provision of legal aid services without legitimate cause.
Legal aid personnel shall report on the handling of legal aid matters to the aid recipient in accordance with provisions, and must not harm the lawful rights and interests of the aid recipient.
Article 47:Aid recipients shall truthfully recount circumstances related to the legal aid matter to legal aid personnel, promptly provide evidence materials, and coordinate and cooperate in handling the legal aid matter.
Article 48: In any of the following circumstances, legal aid institutions shall make a decision to terminate legal aid:
(1) The aid recipient obtained legal aid by fraud or other improper means;
(2) The aid recipient intentionally concealed important facts relevant to the case or provided false evidence;
(3) The aid recipient uses legal aid to engage in illegal activities;
(4) The economic status of the aid recipient changes and they no longer meet the conditions for legal aid;
(5) The case has stopped trial or been withdrawn;
(6) The aid recipient retains a practicing lawyer or another representative by themself;
(7) The recipient has a legitimate reason to request that legal aid be terminated;
(8) Other situations provided for by laws and regulations.
Where legal aid personnel discover the situations provided for in the preceding paragraph; they shall promptly report them to the legal aid institutions.
Article 49: Where applicants or aid recipients have objections to legal aid institutions' decisions to not provide legal aid or to end legal aid, they may submit them to the judicial administrative department that set up the legal aid institution.
The judicial administrative departments shall conduct a review within five days of receiving an objection and make a decision to either sustain the legal aid institution's decision or order the legal aid institution to change the decision.
Applicants and aid recipients who are dissatisfied with a judicial administrative department's decision to sustain a legal aid institution's decision may request an administrative reconsideration or raise an administrative lawsuit in accordance with law.
Article 50: After the handling of legal aid matters is completed, legal aid personnel shall promptly report to the legal aid institutions, submit copies or reproductions of relevant legal documents, reports on handling the matter, and other materials.
Chapter V: Safeguards and Oversight
Article 51: The state is to strengthen the use of information technology in legal aid, promoting information sharing and work coordination between judicial administrative departments, judicial organs, and relevant departments.
Article 52: The legal aid institutions shall promptly pay compensation for legal aid to legal aid personnel handling legal aid matters in accordance with provisions.
The standards for legal aid compensation are to be determined by the judicial administrative departments of provincial, autonomous region, or directly governed municipality people's governments in conjunction with the finance departments at the same level on the basis of factors such as the level of local economic development, the type of legal aid services, the costs of taking it on, and basic labor rates, are to be dynamically adjusted.
Legal aid compensation is exempt from value-added taxes and personal income taxes.
Article 53:Based on the circumstances, people's courts shall suspend, reduce, or waive litigation fees for aid recipients and waive or reduce costs for legal aid personnel making reproductions.
Notary establishments and forensic evaluation establishments shall reduce or waive notary or evaluation fees for aid recipients.
Article 54: The judicial administrative departments of people's governments at the county level or above shall conduct planned training of legal aid personnel to increase their professional caliber and capacity for service.
Article 55: Aid recipients have the right to learn about the handling of legal aid matters from the legal aid institutions or legal aid personnel; and where legal aid institutions or legal aid personnel do perform their duties in accordance with law, aid recipients may make a complaint to the judicial administration departments, and may request that the legal aid institution change legal aid personnel.
Article 56:Judicial administration departments shall establish a system for investigating and handling complaints on legal aid work; and after receiving complaints shall accept them in accordance with relevant provisions and investigate and handle them, and shall promptly inform the complainant of the outcome.
Article 57: Judicial administrative departments shall strengthen oversight of legal aid services, draft quality standards legal aid services, and periodically evaluate quality through means such as third-party assessments.
Article 58: Judicial administration departments and legal aid institutions shall establish a system for the disclosure of legal aid information, periodically publishing on circumstances such as the use of legal aid funds, case handling, the results of quality evaluations, and accepting public oversight.
Article 59: Legal aid institutions shall comprehensively use measures such as observing trials, checking case files, consulting judicial organs' opinions, and meeting with recipients, to urge legal aid personnel to increase the quality of services.
Article 60: Lawyers associations shall include law firms' and lawyers' performance of legal aid obligations in annual evaluations, and carry out punishments as provided for law firms and lawyers that do not perform legal aid obligations or do so in a lackluster fashion.
Chapter VI: Legal Responsibility
Article 61: Where legal aid institutions and legal aid personnel have any of the following circumstances, the judicial administration department that set up the corresponding legal aid institution is to order corrections; where there are unlawful gains, they are to be ordered returned or confiscated; and sanctions; and sanctions are to be given in accordance with law to the directly responsible managers and other directly responsible personnel:
(1) Refusing to provide legal aid to those qualified to receive it; or intentionally providing legal aid to those who do not meet the requirements for legal aid;
(2) appointing personnel to provide legal aid who do not meet the requirements of this Law;
(3) Accepting assets from aid recipients;
(4) engaging in legal services for compensation;
(5) taking possession of, divvying up, or misappropriating legal aid funds;
(6) Leaking state secrets, commercial secrets, or private personal information during the course of providing legal aid;
(7) Other circumstances as provided by laws and regulations.
Article 62: Where law firms or basic-level legal service centers have any of the following situations, the judicial administrative departments are to give punishments in accordance with law:
(1) They refuse to accept appointments by legal aid institutions without legitimate cause;
(2) Not promptly arranging for lawyers or basic-level legal service workers from that firm to handle a legal aid matter after accepting an appointment or they refuse to provide support and assurances for basic-level legal service workers handling legal aid matters;
(3) Tolerating or turning a blind eye to the firm's lawyers' or basic-level legal service workers' sluggish performance of legal aid obligations or stopping the provision of legal aid without authorization;
(4) Other circumstances provided for by laws and regulations.
Article 63: Where lawyers or basic-level legal service workers have any of the following situations, the judicial administrative departments are to give punishments in accordance with law:
(1) Refusing to perform legal aid obligations or delaying performance without a legitimate reason;
(2) Ending the provision of legal aid without authorization;
(3) Accepting assets from aid recipients;
(4) Leaking state secrets, commercial secrets, or private personal information during the course of providing legal aid;
(5) Other circumstances as provided by laws and regulations.
Article 64: Where aid recipients obtain legal aid by fraud or other improper means, the judicial administrative departments are to order them to pay fees for the legal aid already carried out, and give a fine of up to 3,000 RMB.
Article 65: Where this Law is violated by providing legal services posing as legal aid and soliciting benefits, the judicial administrative organs are to order corrections, confiscate unlawful gains, and give a fine of between 1 and 3 times the unlawful gains.
Article 66: Where state organs and their staffs abuse their authority, derelict their duties, or twist the law for personal gain in legal aid work, the directly responsible managers and other directly responsible personnel are to be sanctioned in accordance with law.
Article 67: Where a violation of the provisions of this Law constitutes a crime, criminal responsibility is to be pursued in accordance with law.
Chapter VII: Supplementary Provisions
Article 68: The relevant provisions of this Law are to be applied by reference to mass organizations such as labor unions, communist youth leagues, womens federations, and Disable Persons Federations carrying out legal aid work.
Article 69: Where our nation's laws have provisions on providing legal aid to foreigners or stateless persons, apply those legal provisions; and where out nations' laws make no provisions, the relevant provisions of this law may be applied by reference on the basis of treaties our nation has concluded or international covenants it participates in, or in accordance with he principle of reciprocity.
Article 70: The specific measures for the provision of legal aid to military members and families are to be drafted by the relevant departments of the State Council and the Central Military Commission.
Article 71: This Law is to take effect beginning January 1, 2022.