Legal Assistance

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Legal Assistance


(agreements on legal assistance), agreements between states regarding issues of cooperation among legal institutions and also the rendering of legal assistance in civil, family, and criminal cases; participating institutions include courts, notarial agencies, and procurators’ offices. The USSR has such agreements with Albania (1958), Bulgaria (1957), Hungary (1958; amended agreement, 1971), the German Democratic Republic (1957), the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (1957), Mongolia (1958), Poland (1957), Rumania (1958), Czechoslovakia (1957), Yugoslavia (1962), and Iraq (1973). The agreements are designed to ensure mutual recognition and observance of the property and personal rights of citizens of one state who are on the territory of the other. The agreements regulate legal protection, competence of courts and applicability of law, and issues of cooperation between legal institutions. They also regulate issues concerning the procedural rights of foreigners, the meeting of requests for legal assistance, recognition and execution of judgments in civil and family cases, recognition and transfer of documents, and extradition of criminals. Agreements on legal assistance provide for equality of aliens, under which citizens of one state who are on the territory of another enjoy the same protection for their personal and property rights as the citizen of the host country. Foreign citizens may freely and without obstruction appeal to the courts, procurator’s office, notarial agency, and other legal establishments of the other state; submit petitions; and bring suit. They are also given the same procedural rights as citizens of the host country.

Agreements on legal assistance contain provisions for mutual execution of orders handed down by courts and other legal establishments. They also stipulate mutual recognition of court judgments that have assumed legal force in civil and family cases. The judgment of a foreign court is thus recognized as having the same legal force as a judgment of the court in the host country.

In addition, the agreements provide that judgments delivered in one state may be executed on a mandatory basis on the territory of another state; a petition for mandatory execution is delivered to the court that rendered the judgment. It is forbidden to review the merits of a case on the basis of the legislation of the country where the judgment is executed. In the USSR, the judgments of courts in countries with which the USSR has concluded agreements for rendering legal assistance are executed according to rules established by the Edicts of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of Sept. 12, 1958, Dec. 20, 1958, and July 9, 1965.

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