After five years of discussions and deliberations, the National Council of the Israel Lawyers Forum authorized rules that will enable courts to appoint attorneys for those who cannot afford to pay for them.
Until now, such attorneys were appointed at the court's discretion, but if the new rules are approved by the Knesset, anyone who qualifies, based on the objective criteria to be set down in the law, will get free legal representation in Israeli courts.
A law passed by the Knesset in 2009 requires the Forum to provide free legal assistance for those in need. Discussions on who would be eligible for that assistance have been ongoing since then, with various “neediness” levels – such as individuals who have gone bankrupt, have had possessions repossessed, have been fired from their jobs, and are in debt, among others.
According to the rules approved Sunday, the Forum will set up offices around the country where applicants can present their requests. An appeals process for those who have been turned down will also be implemented.
Forum chairman Doron Barzilai stated “this is a revolution in services for the public. We have removed the final barriers to assisting populations in need of legal assistance.”