THE Guyana Legal Aid Clinic (GLAC) has provided legal aid services to 1,433 persons, between the period of January to September, 2020, in relation to a wide range of both civil and criminal matters.
Of the 1,433 individuals who benefitted from the services (advice only and advice along with representation), 208 were from Region Two; 1,086 from Region Four; 31 from Region Five and 108 from Region Six.
The spectrum of civil matters included areas of divorce, domestic violence, estates, personal injury, and property disputes with 186 civil matters dealt with in Region Two; 1,012 in Region Four; 31 in Region Five and 96 in Region Six.
The legal aid clinic also saw a high number of divorce matters, with 684 individuals across the four regions being interviewed, all of whom advice and representation were rendered to.
In relation to criminal matters, services were offered for offences inclusive of assault, disorderly behaviour, murder/manslaughter, narcotics possession, robbery and theft; 22 matters were addressed in Region 2; 74 in Region Four and 12 in Region Six. There were no criminal matters dealt with in Region Five for the period.
Of the 22 criminal matters dealt with, nine pertained to murder/manslaughter cases, eight in relation to rape/carnal knowledge and 21 in relation to robbery and theft. Two individuals, who applied for legal aid during the period, were deemed ineligible.
The Guyana Legal Aid Clinic is a non-governmental, not for profit organisation that provides legal aid to persons who cannot afford to retain legal representation. The clinic assists clients facing criminal charges and most civil matters in the Court of Appeal, the High Court and most magistrate’s courts.
A means test is used to determine eligibility for either free or subsidised legal aid services. Both financial and substantive eligibility criteria must be satisfied for eligibility. If upon assessment, someone is considered unable to afford to pay anything towards legal aid services (and satisfy the substantive eligibility criteria), they will be provided with same free of charge.
Where, if assessed as being able to pay something towards their legal services, a client will be asked to make a contribution by making a down payment and/or monthly payments. If someone is deemed ineligible for legal aid but would still require assistance, the GLAC refers the individual to a private practitioner who may be willing to take on the case for a reduced fee.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic is only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00hrs to 12:00hrs.
The GLAC has offices in four regions: the Georgetown office is located at First Floor, eastern section, Maraj Building, Lot 185 Charlotte and King Streets, Georgetown; the Essequibo office is located in the RDC compound at Anna Regina; the West Coast Berbice office is located in the RDC compound, Fort Wellington, West Coast Berbice and the East Berbice/Corentyne office is located in the RDC compound, Vryman’s Erven, New Amsterdam, Berbice.