Photo: David Khizanishvili/UNDP

Citizens of Georgia can now get a free legal advice and consultation by simply dialling (032) 2920055 on their phones. A new call centre of the Legal Aid Service opened on 25 June 2018.

The call centre concept, technical equipment and staff training have been supported by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under their larger-scale initiative to increase the access to justice in Georgia.

The call centre responds to the increased demand of the citizens for legal services. The 2017-2018 amendments to the legislation have considerably expanded the Legal Aid Service mandate increasing public access to legal assistance and broadening a scope of provided services to the cases related to labour and real estate disputes, and gender-based and domestic violence.

With the new call centre, the Legal Aid Service will better adhere to the core principle of its operation and offer timely and effective assistance to those who need it most – vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

Any citizen, despite their solvency or social status, is free to obtain a legal advice by phone. As to the full package of the Legal Aid Service, such as the lawyer service and representation before the court, these are, as previously, available for the vulnerable/disadvantaged population only.

The call centre of the Legal Aid Service employees four qualified consultants/phone operators selected in a contest and trained for the position. The up-to-date technical equipment allows for four consultation sets to run simultaneously, which considerably improves the efficiency and operational state of the call centre.

The Legal Aid Service is a state-funded legal aid provider accountable to the Parliament of Georgia. Established in July 2007, the Service offers free legal assistance to the vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens and makes its support available for all of Georgia through its two bureaus and seven consultancy centres.

The Service has provided over 170 thousand face-to-face, online and phone consultations since its establishment. The staff renders 60% of its distance services by phone and the rest through the online platforms (Facebook, skype, email). Quick answers to the citizens’ questions are also available in an online chat at website: www.legalaid.ge and Facebook page: www.facebook/legalaid.ge

The European Union (EU) and UNDP have been working with the Legal Aid Service since its establishment in 2007. In recent years, this comprehensive assistance marked the structural reform of the Service to introduce the up-to-date management tools, development of case-bank, redesign of the public website, now adapted to the best use of people with disabilities, opening of the new administrative building in Tbilisi, and a series of training for lawyers and consultants.

The comprehensive EU4Justice Programme, with a current EU budget allocation of EUR 50 million, is a cooperation framework between Georgia and the European Union in the justice sector that includes cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, prosecutorial, judiciary and penitentiary institutions.

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