Judicial System

Home>Services  >   Legal Aid

Brief introduction

Updated: Aug 16, 2017 english.legalinfo.gov.cn Print

Legal aid refers to the free legal service that is provided by the State. Legal aid is used to guarantee necessary assistance, such as legal advice, procuration, and criminal defense, to impoverished citizens and persons involved in "special" cases. Legal aid is an important project affecting citizens' well-being. According to China's Regulation on Legal Aid (hereinafter referred to as the Regulation) and the State Council's provisions on main responsibilities of the Ministry of Justice, the administrative department of justice of the State Council shall supervise and regulate the legal aids of the whole country. The administrative departments of justice of the local people's governments on the county level and above shall supervise and regulate the legal aid work within their respective administrative divisions. The legal aid institutions shall be responsible for the acceptance and examination of legal aid applications, and for designating or arranging for people to provide legal aid to the citizens that are eligible according to the Regulation.

I. Development of Legal Aid in China

China started the exploration into legal aid scheme in 1994. The Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC amended in 1996 and the Law of the People's Republic of China on Lawyers issued in the same year included provisions about legal aid. In 2003, the State Council issued the Regulationon Legal Aid, forming the basic framework of legal aid scheme. The Regulation provided many issues on legal aid, such as the government responsibility, funding, legal aid institution establishment, scope of aid, organization, implementation and legal responsibility. In 2015, General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council issued Opinions on Amending the Regulation on Legal Aid to further improve the legal system on legal aid and facilitate legal aid in China. Currently, China has developed a legal aid scheme consisting of over 10 laws and regulations, such as the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Lawyers and the Regulation, as well as a serious of supporting files. The scheme has played an important role in regulating the procedure and facilitating the rapid development of legal aid in China.

In recent years, China has been carrying out the Regulation at all levels and extended the coverage of legal aid gradually. With improving service quality and protection as well as improving scheme, legal aid institutions have contributed to social justice and the protection and improvement of people's livelihood. Currently, there're over 3,700 legal aid institutions and more than 70,000 legal aid centers all over China. In 2016 alone, they've processed over 1.3 million legal aid cases and provided legal advice to more than 8.02 million people. More and more people with difficulties have protected their lawful rights and interests via legal aid.

II. Recipients of Legal Aid

Recipients of legal aid in China are Chinese citizens. Citizens can get legal aid in the following two situations.

1. The financial condition of the citizen meets the standards of economic difficulty for legal aid and the request is within the provided scope. In this case, the citizen applies for legal aid by himself or herself.

2. If the suspect or the accused issentenced to life imprisonment or death penalty,or is blind, deaf, or dumb, or is a minor, he or she will get legal aid with the notice of designated defense issued by public security organizations, courts or procuratorates, regardless of the financial condition of the accused. Legal aid service include legal advice, procuration, criminal defense etc.

III. Scope of Legal Aid

Legal aid cases include criminal case, civil cases and administrative cases. Abiding by the Regulation, relevant institutions all over China have been providing legal aid to citizens with economic difficulties when they require for: state compensations, social insurance treatment or minimum life alimony treatment, survivor's pensions or relief funds, the payment for supporting parents or grandparents, and children and the payment of labor remunerations. In recent years, the coverage of legal aid has been further expanded to include, in supplementary provisions on legal aid, areas that are closely related to people’s livelihood, such as labor security, marriage and family, food and drug, education and health care.

IV. Responsibilities of the Department of Legal Aid

According to the regulations on the main responsibilities of the Ministry of Justice issued by the State Council, the duties of the Legal Aid Department are: guiding and inspecting the implementation of legal aid laws, regulations and policies; designing the layout of the legal aid undertaking; supervising and administering the workers of legal aid; and guiding social organizations and volunteers in the legal aid work.

Copyright© China Daily. All rights reserved.

This site strives to provide accurate information, but does not have official status.
Its content (including but not limited to text, photos, and multimedia information) is only for reference.

No liability of China Daily for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever may arise from use of this site,
and users are referred to the official sites of the government ministries and offices the site describes.