JCU’s legal aid services are considered human rights based as following the principles of non-discrimination and equality, i.e. once established that a client falls within the definition of vulnerability (based on the Means and Merit Test – MMT), she or he receives quality services regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, age, physical ability or social status. All clients receive the same quality of services by JCU. To guarantee equal provision of services, JCU takes specific vulnerabilities into account, such as physical limitations, gender specific needs etc. when dealing with the client.
Further principles include;
Transparency and Participation: enlightening clients on the options for their cases and the possible consequences of each choice, so that
the client can make his/her own informed decision. Transparency also requires constant information and feedback to the client and taking the clients feedback into account;
Accountability: comes with transparency, whereby JCU holds herself accountable to all decisions regarding a client and her/his case.
Empathy: this principle is based on the assumption that – unlike well-off clients of paid law firms who already are empowered and enjoying high self-esteem – JCU’s clients are in need of understanding, reassurance and the feeling that they are being heard, respected and their perspective taken into account. Showing empathy is also key to reducing power imbalance between the legal officer and the client that may arise out of different levels of education and social status.