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PUBLIC AND PRIVATE JUSTICE- DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN MODERN SOCIETIES Establishing a Fair and Efficient Justice System

“Best Policies” for Legal Aid: The Finnish system in an international context Law in modern societies is complicated and comprehensive. It also impacts on most aspects of life. Effective use of civil law – especially in disputes and litigation – presupposes a legal knowledge that few citizens possess themselves. Legal service therefore is a flourishing business, with lawyers as the main providers. However, since lawyers’ services are costly, huge groups cannot afford the market price, and it has become a public task to put up legal aid schemes for them.

The course will consist of three parts. The first part will focus on legal aid policy and summarize what recent research tells us about “best policies” for legal aid. What values are essential to legal aid schemes, and what are the major components of an effective system? How generous should such schemes be? How do we prioritize between help with non court matters and litigation aid? What are the working methods in legal aid? Should legal aid mainly deliver the services lawyers usually provide to paying clients, or may they use other strategies, like telephone and internet services, do-it-yourself-kits or IT-assisted self help systems? Might they also use impact strategies like “class actions”, “neighbourhood empowerment” and press for legislative reforms when appropriate? The second part will describe the Finnish legal aid system in some detail, and compare it to the “best policy” principles, while the third part places Finnish legal aid in a Scandinavian context, and compares the Scandinavian systems with legal aid in common law countries.

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