Benchmarking exercise informs draft legal aid legislation in Uganda

Published 18 July 2022

From 11 – 15 July 2022, CPA UK hosted a delegation from the Parliament of Uganda for a five-day virtual programme. During a tumultuous week for UK politics, alongside a criminal barrister strike over legal aid fees, Ugandan Members joined UK counterparts to explore a range of topics related to the legislative process and legal aid provision. Topics of discussion included the scrutiny role of parliamentarians and committees, the perspectives of legal aid practitioners and beneficiaries, and current debates around the future of legal aid services in the UK.

The delegation consisted of two legislative drafters and two sponsors of a National Legal Aid Bill due to be considered in the Parliament of Uganda. The private members’ bill, which is awaiting its first reading, intends to bring providers of legal aid under one banner, providing a holistic service to those in need and replacing the current system which involves different pots of funding with varying levels of legal provision. The format and contents of the programme emerged out of preliminary meetings with the group, responding to their request for a visit tailored around questions on the legal aid context in the UK.

Alongside other visits the delegation has planned - to South Africa, for example - this programme intended to support further preparation of the bill as well as an informed scrutiny process. Structured over five days, the programme included nine online sessions with UK Members of Parliament, policy advisors from the Ministry of Justice,
legal aid solicitors, and representatives from the Bar Council and Law Centres Network.

Discussions between the Ugandan delegation and UK counterparts were extensive and wide-ranging, yet produced three overarching and recurring themes: sustainability, simplicity, and education. These themes hold the key takeaways from the discussions:

  • the importance of efficient use of legal aid funds in order to secure its long-term future;
  • the benefit of universal, cohesive legal aid criteria and structures; and
  • the value of comprehensive public education regarding legal rights and entitlements.

The full report on the remote programme is available in the library of the CPA UK website or by clicking here. For further information on CPA UK's engagement with the Parliament of Uganda, please visit our country page.