Document Type



This article will discuss the scope of services and rationale for the right to a free lawyer in civil matters as is the case in criminal cases. This right is currently provided in the 49 European member countries in the Council of Europe (COE), Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Zambia, South Africa, and Brazil. Frequent reference will be made to a chart in the appendix, which condenses extensive information about programs in each of these countries. The article’s general conclusion regarding the foreign programs is that the right to a free lawyer in civil matters is a robust concept. Multiple rationales, such as, rule of law, preservation of other human rights, due process, foundational for democracy, peaceful dispute resolution, access to justice, equal protection, confidence in the judicial process, and social policy goals of poverty eradication, all lead to a similar result, publicly provided lawyers for indigents in civil matters.


A condensed version of this article was published in 40 ClearringhouseRev 288.