Overview of Legal Aid in Ningbo City
Ningbo Municipal Legal Aid Center, founded in Oct. 1996, is the earliest legal aid institution of Zhejiang Province. As a public institution, the center was incorporated into administrative establishment and became an internal organ of Ningbo Municipal Bureau of Justice in 2008. As of 2001, legal aid centers have been founded in six districts, three county level cities and two counties of Ningbo. At present, all legal aid centers of the city have boasted a total office area of 4,745 square meters with an average area of 390 sq. m. for each center. All of these centers are located in the downtown of local urban area with 83 staff members in total, including 59 persons holding bachelor’s degrees or above and 32 full-time aiding lawyers holding lawyer’s qualification certificates. Operation expenses of all legal aid centers of the city are guaranteed in full amount by the municipal fiscal budget, for instance, the gross legal aid expenditure of the city reached RMB 10.31 million in 2013.
Since 2005, Ningbo City has expanded the application scope of legal aid for three times. As a result, the municipal scope of civil legal aid was expanded from 6 categories of cases to 24 categories of cases (specified in Regulation on Legal Aid unveiled by the State Council), basically involving all respects of people’s livelihood. Security of right and interests is highlighted for the juveniles, women workers, the aged, peasants and other groups. In addition, the standard of financial difficulty for legal aid application was lowered from income per capita of family at 1.5 times of minimum living guarantee to the local minimum wage standard. Through the expansion of its acceptance scope, legal aid will benefit more groups of people. Meanwhile, the city actively constructed a four-level legal aid network involving city, county, town and village/community. Legal aid work stations are founded in every village, town and sub-district throughout the city, and legal aid offices are founded in 2,765 villages (communities) and area populated more than 317 migrant habitations. Moreover, legal aid stations (right-securing posts) are founded at municipal and county women’s federations, labor unions, disabled people unions, grassroot courts, law firms, prisons and other places; law firms were incorporated into acceptance offices for legal aid application. The city has formed a legal aid network dominated by the legal aid institutions of city, county and district level, based on the legal aid work stations of village, town and sub-district level and supplemented by legal aid associations and organizations. With those efforts, we realized “1 hour Legal Aid Service Circles” and provided high quality and efficient legal service for the aided people at a “Zero Distance”. In 2013, legal aid institutions at all levels of the city provided various legal advices for 60,770 person times in total, and handled 15,547 legal aid cases in total, inclusive of 3,263 criminal cases and 12,284 civil cases. In the first half of 2014, these institutions interpreted legal questions for 30,978 person times in total, and handled 7,612 legal aid cases in total.