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Know your rights! Here is where to get free legal assistance in Copenhagen
‘Affirmation’, ‘civil liability’, ‘waiver’ – If you find yourself tangled up in legal terms which are difficult to understand, there is help, and it doesn’t have to be costly.
Take Ung og Ret, for example. It is a student-run legal aid initiative that advises students (both in Danish and English) on Danish laws and legislation in Copenhagen (reported on the University Post here).
The University Post visited another free legal aid organisation in Copenhagen city area Nørrebro – Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond (The Social Legal Aid Foundation).
Our reporter spoke with the head of ‘Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond’ in Copenhagen, Stine Quorning.
According to her, students typically have housing issues, but it could also be about student SU grants, anything.
”It could be about their loans, if they have debts, or it could be about problems with their University,” says Quorning.
A recurring theme is housing issues.
Maybe “they are not getting their deposit back, not getting their rent, or maybe they don’t know the laws about renting out their apartment,” she says.
Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond and other legal aid organizations uphold the principle that everyone has the right to legal assistance whatever their income. This is why they aim to help out socially and economically vulnerable people. However, the volunteer law students and lawyers will assist anyone short of money and in need of legal advice, and this includes students.
Legal aid organizations are open to any cases and any questions concerning personal legal issues.
“We are handling cases on every legal aspect,” says Quorning about the variety of cases Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond take on.
Most legal aid organizations offer a broad range of assistance in anything from immigration and public services to consumer rights.
The legal resources available and the type of lawyer workforce differs from organization to organization. Their own backgrounds and focus decides whether they can handle certain cases or certain areas of law, but legal aid organizations are part of a larger network, and so most cases can at least be guided towards the best help possible.
As Quorning puts it: ”Normally, if we don’t know that much about a legal aspect, we will turn it over to another legal aid organisation.”
The help legal aid organizations offer spans from a general legal evaluation of a case to the actual handling of a case.
”We can give people advice on what they can do themselves,” says Quorning. In this way the legal aid can help people understand the nature of the problems, and suggest the best way to handle it.
Depending on the case, many legal aid organizations can also be a representative in the contact to involved parties.
”We can write a letter, for instance, to the landlord or contact certain boards such as the rental control board,” says Quorning about Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond, referring to the typical housing problems students face.
There are certain limits to the legal aid provided. For instance, most of the legal aid organizations don’t help in writing up legally binding documents such as wills and they never go to court. However, rather than rejecting the case altogether, they will try to help as far as they can, or turn the case over to someone else.
As Quorning puts it: ”We normally get to a sort of arrangement or settlement of some sort. And if we can’t, we will send it to an attorney who can take it to court”.