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Legal Experts Advisory Panel

The Legal Experts Advisory Panel (or LEAP) is Fair Trials’ European network of experts in criminal justice and human rights which works to promote fair trial rights in Europe. LEAP currently counts some 200 organisational members, with representatives from law firms, CSOs, and academic institutions, covering all 28 EU Member States.

What is LEAP?

The Legal Experts Advisory Panel (or LEAP) is Fair Trials’ European network of experts in criminal justice and human rights which works to promote fair trial rights in Europe. LEAP currently has around 200 organisational members, with representatives from law firms, CSOs, and academic institutions, covering all 28 EU Member States.

Through Fair Trials’ coordination, LEAP is able to offer an expert view on a broad range of EU criminal justice topics, while also boosting cooperation between human rights defenders in cross-border work. LEAP’s importance has been acknowledged by the EU, which has recognised the network’s contribution to justice in the EU.

At the regional level, LEAP works to inform the EU’s agenda on criminal justice by:

  • providing input to proposed EU legislation and advocating for new measures to ensure fair trial standards are upheld and promoted;
  • contributing to expert roundtable discussions with EU stakeholders, including EU officials and civil society representatives, to raise awareness of key fair trial issues in Europe;
  • researching emerging challenges to fair trial rights in Europe;
  • supporting selected litigation before the EU Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights to challenge legislation and practices that violate fair trial rights.

At the local level, LEAP pushes for the effective implementation of EU standards on fair trial rights through national initiatives. This is done through a whole range of activities, including:

  • surveying and researching domestic practices which are supposed to give effect to fair trial rights;
  • advocating for the respect of EU standards through letters to relevant public authorities and other stakeholders, as well written submissions to parliaments regarding draft legislation;
  • litigating cases which help to develop domestic jurisprudence on fair trial rights, as well as helping to link it to regional jurisprudence.

LEAP is coordinated by Fair Trials Europe, Fair Trials’ Brussels offices, with the financial support of the Justice Programme of the European Union.

 

 

Key Stats

200

Organisational members of LEAP

30

States represented in LEAP

JUSTICE

LEAP’s importance has been acknowledged by the EU, which has recognised the network’s contribution to EU Justice.

EXPERTISE

Through Fair Trials’ coordination, LEAP is able to offer an expert view on a broad range of EU criminal justice topics, while also boosting cooperation between human rights defenders in cross-border work.

"It is always of benefit if people are properly represented - LEAP brings tangible benefit to the system of justice in Europe"

Dara Robinson, LEAP Advisory Board Member, Ireland

Judicial Remedies

Whenever fair trial rights are violated, it is important that there is a way to put it right. In criminal law, this is done through judicial remedies, which are ordered by a criminal court and can take the form of financial compensation, or even a re-trial. Even though judicial remedies are crucial to give teeth to fair trial rights, they are not always effective enough and do not reflect the considerable progress that has been made in recent years with the strengthening of protections across Europe.

Against this background, this Working Group aims to examine the judicial remedies available in EU Member States for violations of procedural rights, particularly in the context of the implementation of the EU Directives, and to explore ways to bridge the gap between rights that exist on paper and judicial remedies in practice.

The coordination of the Working Group, which was established in 2016, is provided by Fair Trials and Vania Costa Ramos (LEAP Advisory Board member for Portugal), with Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos (LEAP member for the UK and Greece) acting as Academic Advisor.

NEWS

Can pre-trial detention last for nearly eight years? A view from Poland

Key Stats

3 million

People detained pre-trial around the world

1.6 billion €

Spent on pre-trial detention in the EU every year

EU COURT OF JUSTICE

The EU Directives on procedural rights, together with EU legislation on cross-border criminal justice are increasingly putting national laws and practices to the test. In this context, the Court of Justice of the European Union is increasingly being asked to try and interpret EU law and decide whether domestic norms and practices comply with EU standards on fair trial rights.

As a result, the Court could play a really important role in the development of these rights. Given this, in 2018 Fair Trials established a small working group within LEAP to help guide our work to try and make sure that the Court's jurisprudence on EU criminal law offers the best protections possible. 

This Working Group will build on Fair Trials’ past efforts to address the EU Court, including through interventions in cases related to access to a lawyer (Beuze v Belgium) and to the European Arrest Warrant (Prisacaru v Belgium and Romania).

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Despite being protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a fair trial remains one of the most violated across the 47 members of the Council of Europe. There have been nearly 10,000 judgments made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which haven't been executed by national governments, leaving fair trial rights at risk of being left without effective protection.

In 2017, a group of LEAP members, led by Advisory Board member Jaanus Tehver, decided to create a new Working Group whose aim is to advocate for the development of the jurisprudence of the European Court related to the rights contained in the EU’s criminal justice legislation, and to monitor and advocate for the improved implementation at the national level of regional court judgments related to the rights to liberty and fair trial.

NEWS

Implementation of Strasbourg judgments: Fair Trials submit brief to Council of Europe rapporteur

Key Stats

10,000

European judgments with no execution

28.05%

of all Convention violations in 2017 concerned the right to a fair trial

JUSTICIA

The JUSTICIA European Rights Network (JUSTICIA) is a network of leading civil society organisations from across Europe, mainly national-level civil liberties organisations, designed to help them cooperate and coordinate around the promotion of the right to a fair trial in Europe.

In June 2017, the members of JUSTICIA, many of whom were already LEAP members, decided to integrate the network into LEAP as a working group effective April 2018.

This working group allows LEAP to further build connections between the academic and practitioner LEAP members with national-level civil society and, in doing so, strengthen the ability of LEAP members as a whole to effectively monitor and advocate for the protection of the right to a fair trial in Europe.

In 2017, the JUSTICIA European Rights Network engaged in research to analyse and document discrimination in European criminal justice systems, which is an issue that in past LEAP Annual Surveys LEAP members have consistently highlighted.

National initiatives

At the local level, LEAP wants to see the effective implementation of EU standards on fair trial rights. The way we're working towards that is through national initiatives which encompass a range of activities, including:

  • surveying and researching domestic practices which are supposed to give effect to fair trial rights;
  • advocating for the respect of EU standards through letters to relevant public authorities and other stakeholders, as well written submission link to parliaments regarding draft legislation;
  • litigating cases which further domestic jurisprudence on fair trial rights and help link it to regional jurisprudence.

Introduction

This section of the site is where you can find basic information for LEAP members, any upcoming events or meetings, as well as any recent or current surveys we've produced.

The Legal Experts Advisory Panel (or LEAP) is Fair Trials' European network of experts in criminal justice and human rights which works to promote fair trial rights in Europe. LEAP currently counts around 200 organisational members, with representatives from law firms, CSOs, and academic institutions, covering all 28 Member States. 

LEAP is coordinated by Fair Trials Europe, Fair Trials' Brussels office, with financial support of the justice Programme of the European Union. 

We've put together a welcome pack for LEAP members. Even if you've been a member for ages, its still got useful information in there - explaining how you can get the most out of the network,  how to ask questions of LEAP members, the different working groups, as well as some informaiton about communications and our privacy policy.

Download the LEAP Welcome Pack here, which sets out information on:

  • Who we are;
  • What we do;
  • How we communicate about the network
  • How we process your personal data

Conferences

One of LEAPs great strengths is the range and breadth of its members knowledge and experience. Our CSOs, academics and lawyers work on fair trial issues every day, so are perfectly placed to help inform the development of better protections for suspects.

Each year, this breadth of experience comes together for the LEAP annual conference to consider the big developments of the last 12 months as well as looking at what should be on the criminal justice agenda for the year ahead.

The conferences feature not only LEAP members, but other leading figures from the criminal justice world. Our most recent conference took place in Sofia, Bulgaria, in March 2018. Keynote speakers included Krassimir Kanev, of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, discussing what we could hope from the Bulgarian EU Presidency, as well as Jerry Buting, from Buting & Williams, best known to many as one of the lawyers defending Stephen Avery in the case made famous by Netflix who presented on 'US criminal procedure and the lessons that can be learned from “Making a Murderer”'.

The conference looked at range of issues which reflected the current major fair trial issues, including 'Human Rights and the European security agenda', 'dispending justice without trial.' The conference also sought to put the work of LEAP membership front and centre of discussions. 

Previous conferences have been held in Athens (2017), Budapest (2016), Amsterdam (2015), and London (2014).

We’re already starting to think about the LEAP Annual Conference for 2019, so if you have suugestions for issues you would like to see covered at the conference then let us know by sending an email to Gianluca. 

Surveys

LEAP members provide fair trials with eyes and ears across the EU - helping us to identify the underlying causes of unfair trials when they appear.

There are different ways for us to know what’s happening in different jurisdictions and to help us inform our regional work and future initiatives. One of the most useful ways for us to gather information is through surveys of our membership. From now on you’ll be able to find these surveys in this section on the site. The results will also be available so you’ll be able to see where the information can be useful in your own work.

LEAP Annual Conference Evaluation

This short survey is intended for us to learn what we did well, and what we could do better. 

 

 

 

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