Referral means that a case is passed on to any organisation, outside of the organisation’s own staff or resources. Referrals could be made to different institutions such as Village Court, Arbitration Council, District Legal Aid Committee (DLAC), Shelter Home, Victim Support Centre – Once Stop Crisis Centre (VSC-OCC) or NGOs or private organisations that provide legal services, such as BLAST, BNWLA, Mohila Parishad, BELA, ASK and others. The key requirements for referral are an agreement or MOU with Service provider, referral slip, complaint summary and follow-up mechanism. Referrals are in many cases a key part of ensuring that the clients have access to the full range of services that will assist them with the resolution of their legal issue or dispute.
CLS ensures that CLS partners do not act beyond their competence to provide services, for instance where specialist legal advice is required or a case needs to be taken forward to a higher court by an expert organisation. CLS STANDARD requires its partner NGOs to develop a Referrals Policy and Procedures.
All staff working directly with the clients needs to be trained in the policy and procedures and in particular the circumstances where referral is appropriate – for instance the client has special needs or where specialist legal input is required. Feedback from the clients on referrals is important – both to ensure that the clients have received expected and appropriate service from the organisation to which they have been referred and also to ensure that any difficulties with referrals, can be dealt with. Records of all referrals need to be kept, which should include the clients’ feedback.