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R.D. v. Poland

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image of Human Rights Case Digest

The right of an accused to free legal assistance is one of the elements inherent in the notion of fair trial. That provision attaches two conditions to this right. The first is lack of “sufficient means to pay for legal assistance”, the second is that “the interests of justice” must require that such assistance be given free. The nature of the charges against the applicant, the need to develop appropriate arguments on complicated legal issues or the complexity of the cassation procedure might, from the point of view of the “interests of justice”, necessitate that he be granted free legal assistance. There was a primary, indispensable requirement of the “interests of justice” that must be satisfied in each case. That was the requirement of a fair procedure before courts, which, among other things, imposed on the State authorities an obligation to offer an accused a realistic chance to defend himself throughout the entire trial. In the context of cassation proceedings, that meant that the authorities must give an accused the opportunity of putting his case in the cassation court in a concrete and effective way.


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