UNBA appealed to PACE concerning the attempts to destroy an independent bar through a behind-the-scenes drafted law

Advocacy 15:34 Thu 12.10.17 36 Reviews Print

The UNBA appealed to the PACE concerning the attempts to destroy an independent bar through a behind-the-scenes drafted law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law” (as amended and restated) and other Related Legislative Acts of Ukraine”.

The relevant letter to the PACE President Stella Kyriakides was sent on October 12.

In her address the UNBA President Lidiia Izovitova informs about threats to the independence of the Ukrainian Bar, created in the process of development and lobbying of this draft law. At present, the text of this document has been submitted for examination to the Council of Europe Project “Support to the Implementation of the Judicial Reform in Ukraine”. However, it was not provided to the UNBA representatives during a joint meeting with the project experts, held on October 11.

“We’ve learned from the Council of Europe experts that they received a request for an expert assessment of the draft law on its “minimal” compliance with the standards and recommendations of the Council of Europe. This request is of concern, since there is an effective Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law” of 2012 that has been assessed in 2011 as not “minimally”, but “completely” complying with the European standards and values of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission)”, – says the letter to the PACE.

The UNBA emphasizes its predictions about the devastating consequences of a new “secret” draft law, which from the high standards and recommendations of the Council of Europe goes down to the minimal ones. In this context, the UNBA asks to transmit the text of the draft law to the Venice Commission.

“On behalf of the Ukrainian National Bar Association I request you to make every endeavor within your competence to send the draft law, submitted for examination to the Council of Europe Project “Support to the Implementation of the Judicial Reform in Ukraine” by the Judicial Reform Council (Ukraine) (CoE experts Rytis Jokubauskas and Vahe Grigoryan), to the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) for consideration and opinion on compliance with European standards and values before it is transmitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine”, – the letter reads.

The UNBA reminds that, as a representative of the entire Ukrainian bar community, from the very beginning it was limited in the right to participate in the drafting of amendments to the effective law “On the Bar and Practice of Law” and was deprived of any possibility to influence its final content. This situation in December 2016 coincided with another event in the Verkhovna Rada, when, without any previous consultations with the bar, the amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law” were adopted, by which the annual amount of advocates’ contributions, used to ensure the operation of the bar self-government bodies, was reduced by half. Thus, it was a major setback on the Ukrainian bar financing.

“Instead of creating additional and maintaining the current conditions for the advocates’ independence, the government, represented by individual officials, constantly endeavors to make the advocates’ activities more complicated and, in some cases, to completely ruin the bar system in Ukraine”, – says the letter to the PACE.

Despite the UNBA’s public request and the CCBE position, calling to refrain from the bar reforming without consulting the UNBA, now the draft law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law” is being prepared for submission to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for consideration in the same ‘secret’ way.

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