Suspects to be given a solicitor from the start

The Chamber of Representatives has passed legislation that will grant suspected criminals the right to a solicitor from the first time that they are questioned. Previously, a suspect had only been entitled to a solicitor once he or she had been officially detained by an examining magistrate.

The new rules have come about as a result of the case of a 17-year-old Turkish youth that was wrongly convicted.

He took his case to the European Court of Human Rights that ruled that he had not received a fair trial.

All EU countries are obliged to take account of the ruling and if necessary adapt their rules and procedures.

Those without the means to pay for a solicitor will be entitled to legal aid. It is expected that each year around 30 million Euro extra will be spent on legal aid as a result of the ruling.

The new procedures will come into force from 1 October.