Bar association legal aid services

The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (the Association) is a non-governmental institution for Cambodia’s lawyers.  In keeping with Article 24 of the United Nations Basic Principle on the Role of Lawyers, the Association represents lawyers’ interests, promotes their continuing education and training, and protects their professional integrity.1 In order to practice law in Cambodia, a lawyer must be registered with the Association. The organization performs its duties independently from the government but is subject to the Law on the Bar.2​ Before being fully admitted to the Association, novice lawyers must perform two cases on a pro bono basis. However, after admittance to the bar, lawyers are not required to provide pro bono legal services or legal aid.3 

Screenshot of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia website, dated on 20 September 2021. Licensed not specified.

Legal aid of BAKC

The Bar Association accepts low-income clients after they have been determined to be sufficiently impoverished by the Chief Judge of the Courts and the Chiefs of the Court Clerks.4 Once approved, individuals may submit their accepted request for legal assistance to the Bar Association President. The President then has fifteen days to designate a LAD attorney to their case.5 The Association provides pro bono legal services through its Legal Aid Department (LAD), assisting low-income clients with attorney representation.

Funding for the LAD comes from two primary sources. The first is the Bar Fund, which comes from mandatory contributions from all Association attorneys. Secondly, the Royal Government of Cambodia contributes a certain amount of funding for legal aid services. The BAKC president pointed out that in 2021, the government would increase the budget by two billion riel or $500,000.6 Despite increases in funding, support for legal aid services remains inadequate. The small and decreasing number of legal aid lawyers is also another challenge, particularly the shortage of lawyers in a few provinces in Cambodia.7

The BAKC president, Ly Chantola, said that for 2020, the BAKC offered legal representation in 2,566 cases for 4,000 poor clients, of which 291 are women, and 826 are juveniles. Also, legal consultation services to low-income clients in 226 cases.8 A new policy was also introduced so that the members can defend the poor, provide advice, counsel legal services for free to the public at each lawyer’s office.9​ The BAKC pledged to broaden the scope of pro bono defense consultations for the poor in a notice dated February 5, 2021 and called on lawyers around the country to serve social justice to lessen the impacts of poverty. Victims of felonies or misdemeanors who do not have the means or access to procure legal representation, such as garment workers, women, and children, are also encouraged to seek help. 10

As of March 18, 2021, the BAKC has received of 438 volunteer lawyers, of which 249 lawyers are volunteering to provide free consultation and 189 lawyers volunteering to provide free legal advice and defense to the poor. People can contact the volunteer attorney on duty at any time during regular business hours around the country.11 The BAKC recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cambodian National Council for Women to expand legal services to girls and women victimized by violence and to train officials in relevant laws.12 

Organizational structure

BAKC Contact information

Office AddressThe corner of Street 1129 and Street 1930, Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey, Khan Sen Sok, Phnom Penh.
Phone(855) 23 622 7070
Emailinfo@bakc.org.kh
Websitewww.bakc.org.kh

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