The CCBE urges the President of Ukraine to veto amendments to the law on the bar in part of advocates’ contributions
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The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) addressed the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with a number of letters concerning compliance with national and international standards of advocates’ rights and the status of the legal profession. This was referred to in a letter by Mr Michel Benichou, President of the CCBE, which represents interests of the community of one million lawyers and legal professionals in 45 countries, to the Ukrainian President.
The CCBE was informed by the UNBA about the latest legislative initiatives and events that directly threaten or violate the rights of advocates in Ukraine, with a detailed description and legal argument concerning each precedent. This in particular concerned the draft law no. 5132. In particular, the European side was informed that on 15 and 21 December the Council for Judicial Reform recommended a draft law concerning changes to the legislation on the bar and practice of law.
“These changes were drafted without any consultation with the Ukrainian National Bar Association, and presented without any representatives of a lawyers’ interest group. On 21 December, the draft law no. 5132 amending the Criminal and Tax Codes of Ukraine was approved. The review of this bill in Parliament led to amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law”, limiting the discretion of lawyers’ self-governance to set the sum and procedure of payment of yearly membership fees and traineeship fees”, - stated the CCBE letter.
This CCBE stressed that the reform of the bar without the latter’s opinion narrows democracy.
"While we understand that the bill has been recommended in an effort to adapt national codes to EU Law, the CCBE feels strongly that instances in which legislative proposals are passed and approved by the legislature without consultation of lawyers’ self-government are detrimental to democracy. We wish to note that the independence of the profession and self-administration have been recognized by both the Council of Europe Recommendations on the Freedom of Exercise of the Profession of Lawyer of 25 October 2000 and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 14 December 1990. Furthermore, the CCBE’s own Charter of Core Principles of the European Legal Profession and Code of Conduct for European Lawyers equally list independence and self-administration amongst the core principles”, - said the CCBE President.
Therefore, the CCBE urged to abstain from making reforms in such a way and to veto the law passed by Parliament.
"In this context, the CCBE supports the Ukrainian Bar Association in its call for Your Excellency to veto the amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Bar and Practice of Law’, passed on 21 December 2016, and to refrain from introducing any amendments to the said law without prior consultations with the Ukrainian National Bar Association In this context, the CCBE supports the National Association of Advocates of Ukraine to appeal to you to veto the changes to the Law of Ukraine", - stated the letter.
The CCBE was also concerned by reports regarding the deterioration of advocates’ image in national media, and in public statements made by authorities. Insults and defamatory declarations made by the Prosecutor General towards certain advocates on national television, and during a Parliamentary Committee session last month, have been distressing for members of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, as well as for all legal professionals.
“We are convinced that such behavior should be condemned, as it discredits the role and the importance of legal defenders in a society. A lawyer should never be identified with his or her client and so become liable for actions committed by their client, as is recommended by the Principle 18 of United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 14 December 1990”, - emphasizes the CCBE President and assures that the CCBE will continue to follow the situation of the legal profession in Ukraine closely and, as an international professional association, is always available for consultation and assistance in providing expertise.Full text of the CCBE letter in English can be consulted in the Ukrainian news.
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