Approval of the UNBA needs report is unacceptable

Advocacy 11:02 Thu 14.12.17 234 Reviews Print

Approval of the Report "On the Needs Assessment Conducted in Respect of the Self-governance of Lawyers in Ukraine", which was composed by international experts within the framework of Council of Europe project ‘Consolidating Ukraine’s Justice Sector Reform’ is unacceptable - statement by UNBA/BCU President Lidia Izovitova during the session of the Bar Council of Ukraine.

"We cannot allow this report to be approved," - said the leader of UNBA, noting the biased nature of the analysis of the state of affairs in the Bar. Citing her statement, the report adopted numerous provisions from the draft law "On amendments to the law "On the Bar and Practice of Law", that the Bar firmly opposed.

UNBA received the final version of the report several hours before presentation. The previous draft of the report received a huge amount of feedback from advocates. The summary comments were laid out on 58 pages and were sent to the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, but it was mostly ignored during preparation of the report.

"Unfortunately, the experts failed to study the current legislation, acts of UNBA, and thus did not understand how this system works, and reached baseless conclusions", - noted Lidiya Izovitova.

"This report left out important things, instead focused on the destruction of a professional organization and its independence, as opposed to institutional strengthening thereof. The analysis of the current law has not been taken into account. It is an attempt to substitute the expertise of the Venice Commission with expertise of two people," said the UNBA/BCU Vice-President Valentyn Gvozdiy.

Among other devastating proposals, he named the creation of regional chambers of the Bar, that are supposed to unite self-governance in every region; the division of the system of Qualification and Disciplinary Commissions into separate vertically integrated corporations, contrary to the Venice Commission's opinion from 2011, changing the procedure for bar exams, which require presence of three representatives of the future High Qualifications Commission. The report literally recommends to unbalance system of Bar self-government, in fact, render Bar Council of Ukraine and Ukrainian National Bar Association largely irrelevant; it is proposed to fix UNBA President’s term in office to two years, while elect Presidents of regional Chambers of the Bar for five, while the latter is vested with the power to  unilaterally manage the entire Bar self-government in the region and dispose of its funds without any oversight.

The report also suggests to impose single-level administration of URAU, where every Chamber of the Bar will be authorized to make unverifiable entries - without a monitoring mechanism at the national level. The consequences of uncontrolled entering of the data into the URAU obviously does not need further comments.

"The suggested model, as our opponents seek it, would probably work in a federated state, not the unitary one, as provided in our Constitution," emphasized Valentyn Gvozdiy.

HQDCB Chairman Aleksandr Drozdov also noted that reference to German model is a questionable at best, while experts’ recommendations to use experience from Poland  do not take into account the fact that the Bar reform of the advocacy in this nation was found to be unconstitutional in many respects.

"Experts for some reason keep silent about other approaches, for example those of the United States or Great Britain, where the internship must be undertaken after Bar exam. This experience is ignored for some reason, while we apply it and it yields positive results" said Aleksandr Drozdov.

The report recommended to limit the sources of income for the independent Bar, regardless of the fact that as a matter of law it has already been limited. Thus, the basis for independent organizational activity gradually fades away.

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