The law provides for access to free legal assistance for the review of detention before the courts, but it is hardly ever exercised in practice. Asylum seekers can ask the court to grant them free legal assistance, if they duly prove that they are not able to bear the costs of legal assistance, without harm to the necessary maintenance of themselves and their families. The court has a clear obligation to inform asylum seekers in a language understandable to them about the right to ask for legal assistance. However, this happens rarely in practice. Most asylum seekers are not aware of this possibility and in practice they are not represented by a legal advisor in the District Court. In addition, their right to defence is not observed when the court decides on the extension of their detention. Foreigners are either not informed about the day of the court proceedings or they are informed (in Polish) on the short notice – on the same day. As a result, they are unable to submit a request for the lawyer on time.
As a result they are dependent on legal assistance granted by NGO lawyers, most of whom are not entitled to represent them before courts. Due to limited funds from AMIF, since 2015 all NGOs have limited their activities and do not visit detention centres on a regular basis to provide such assistance whenever needed. This has not improved in 2019. NGOs visiting detention centres cover the travel expenses from short term projects (in some cases funded by private entities) which does not guarantee the stability of assistance.
It can be said that legal assistance in detention centres is generally not effective because of the lack of a centralised or well-managed system for its provision. NGOs pay visits to the detention centres mostly depending on the project they currently implement, which does not happen very often nowadays.
The law foresees a state legal aid system which includes lawyers’ visits to the detention centres if necessary and it concerns only preparing the appeal of a negative asylum decision. In practice only some foreigners decide to look for a legal representative, i.e. an advocate or a legal advisor.
 Article 78 and 87a Code of Criminal Procedure.
 Article 88b(4) Law on Protection.
 M.Jaźwińska, Dostęp do pomocy prawnej w strzeżonych ośrodkach dla cudzoziemców [in] Legal Intervention Association SIP w działaniu. Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2018 r., May 2019, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/36CSAZX, 44.