The 46th European Bar Presidents' Conference is dedicated to the independence of self-government

Advocacy 20:37 Fri 09.02.18 227 Reviews Print

UNBA/BCU Vice-President Valentyn Gvozdiy and the Chair of the Higher Audit Commission of the Bar Maksim Boldin, took part in the 46th Annual Conference of Bar Leaders of Europe in Vienna. This year, more than 200 leaders of national Bars, leaders of advocates' self-government and representatives of the largest professional organizations - CCBE and IBA took part in the conference.

The main topic of the 46th Conference was the independence of the professional self-government from the state. Discussions of the participants demonstrated that, regardless of the country at question, the relations between the Bar and Government remain problematic. This was a message delivered by representatives of France, while the delegation from Poland was concerned about the systematic problems that arose as a result of absence of a strong organization that could represent all advocates. Many delegations spoke about the menacing tendency of violation of the rights of Bar self-government, which poses a threat to the rule of law in principle.

"Our indisputable right to have independent professional organizations is the only guarantee of our strong influence on the rule of law. Otherwise, we will not be able to protect human rights," said Maria Šlazak, a former Vice-President of CCBE in her keynote speech at the conference.

For the first time in the history of the EPK, the Ukrainian delegation delivered a speech.

Valentyn Gvozdiy reported on the success of the Ukrainian Bar in the development of the self-government system. The core law of 2012, which currently regulates Ukrainian Bar, is one of the newest in Europe, however, within a short period of five years Ukrainian advocates managed to create from the ground up a new self-governing organization that fully complies with the standards of the Council of Europe, able to protect the rights of lawyers and act as a voice of the legal community. At the same time, the forced reform of the legal profession is a concern, since it is based upon a non-viable model of decentralization. As a result, the unity of the national Bar may be ruined, which poses a risk to the unitary Ukrainian State.

"Some ideologists of the Bar reform from the Working group of the Council for Judicial Reform propose to overhaul the system of advocates' self-government. A completely non-working option is on the table, which will be the first step towards the actual federalization of the legal profession in a unitary country. We cannot allow this to happen, as this proposal introduces a number of corruption risks, and, moreover, has nothing to do with actual decentralization, "- said Valentyn Gvozdiy.

The UNBA/BCU Vice-President informed that UNBA and regional Bar self-government, proposed to improve the existing model, rather than develop everything anew. The Joint Opinion of the Venice Commission confirmed its compliance with European standards both in terms of structure and distribution of powers. At the same time, the draft amendments from the Working Group are simply manipulative in terms of assessment of compliance with the standards of the Council of Europe and even direct contradict them.

Ukrainian delegation had a series of meetings at the conference, e.i. with President of the Legal Society of England and Wales on the preparation of a now traditional joint event in Kyiv. A number of meetings were also held with representatives of German Bar and Bars of other European nations.

There was a meeting with the President of the Bar of Kazakhstan. Madam President expressed interest history of development of Ukrainian Bar and its self-government system as means of defending the independence of the legal profession.

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