Reform of the Bar with the participation of the Bar is an international standard practice — interview of Lidiia Izovitova

Advocacy 18:06 Mon 20.11.17 249 Reviews Print

“Reform of the Bar with the participation of the Bar is an international standard practice. If it is not followed, then all further steps in the work on the draft law can be regarded as an attack against the independence of legal profession”, — commented on the course of the Bar reform the UNBA President Lidiia Izovitova in her interview to newspaper “Zakon i Biznes”.

However, the key requirements for attracting UNBA as an official representative of the Bar and publishing the text of the draft law are still not fulfilled. Something strange is going on. In October this year the draft law, in its revised and unknown for us version, was submitted to the Council of Europe international experts for evaluation. The UNBA learned about it by accident from the working letter of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine. We were not told who exactly passed such a decision and which text of the draft law was submitted to experts.

“The Bar Council of Ukraine has twice publicly voiced its opinion on the inadmissibility of the preparation of amendments to the Law “On the Bar and Practice of Law” and the devastating ideas embodied in this document. For the first time, on December 15, 2016 – on the day of approval by the working group of this draft law – in its open statement the BCU drew attention to the “toning up” and substitution of the goals of the Bar reform”, — told the UNBA President about amendments to the Law in her interview to newspaper “Zakon i Biznes”.

“Among other things, we pointed out the significant contradictions and inconsistencies of the draft law, adopted by the working group, with the Presidential Decree No. 276/2015 “On the Strategy for Reforming the Judiciary, Justice and Related Legal Institutions for 2015-2020”. This Strategy, in particular, provides for “strengthening at the institutional level of the Ukrainian National Bar Association to ensure proper professional activities of the Bar, management of legal professions and representation of collective interests of all advocates”, and this document is still valid. At that time the BCU's position was immediately supported by the largest professional bar organization in Europe – the CCBE”, — explained Lidiia Izovitova.

The UNBA President reminded that UNBA representatives were not included in the Judicial Reform Council, and the actual reform of the Bar is entrusted to a working group with uncertain status, powers, inadequate representation, variable composition and covert decisions, for which it is not entitled.

“The reform is carried out in a closed behind-the-scenes regime, in spite of all declarations of democracy and transparency of this process. In these circumstances, there is no compliance with European standards.

Within these 5 years we have defended our independence, but we are prevented from becoming truly powerful. The attempts to intervene in our powers, in particular, the establishment of advocates' contributions at the legislative level, indicate that our State does not need powerful and independent bar organization” — told the UNBA President Lidiia Izovitova.

On December 23, 2016 the ССВЕ has sent an intervention letter to the leadership of Ukraine calling to refrain from introducing any changes to the relevant legislation without consulting the Ukrainian National Bar Association.  But these declarations are yet ignored by Ukrainian government.

The Law provides the advocates with a fair amount of rights and guarantees. But in practice we observe a total violation of these norms. The UNBA believes that the advocates are better protected than the ordinary citizens only due to the corporate solidarity and legal competence.

Full text of the interview can be found by following this link.


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