Effective legal protection is the basis of a democratic society. It arises from the principle of the rule of law and the right to a fair trial, guaranteed by numerous international instruments on human rights, which Serbia has signed. Access to justice, i.e. legal protection is not possible without obtaining legal aid provided by qualified persons. In democratic societies the right to legal aid is guaranteed to all. However, considering that not everyone is able to cover legal costs, the state is obliged to provide free legal aid or legal aid with reduced costs, when required for reasons of equity. This is particularly important as the number of impoverished people in Serbia is increasing.

This study is a unique illustration of the free legal aid system in Serbia. It had two objectives. The first objective was to detect and analyse obstacles which citizens face in trying to exercise their rights before courts and state authorities. The second objective was to gain a more profound insight into experiences with providing free legal aid as a mechanism available to those citizens who face financial obstacles or discrimination when exercising their rights.

The study facilitates establishing an efficient, effective and sustainable legal aid system in Serbia which will be able to provide equal access to justice, the equality of citizens before the law and respect of the rule of law.