The reform of the Bar self-government must be based on the current model - Chairs of Regional Bar Councils
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The reform of the Bar self-government should take place on the basis of the model, created by the current law "On the Bar and Practice of Law."
It is the position of UNBA President Lidiya Izovitova, the Chair of HQDCB Oleksandr Drozdov, the Chairs of Regional Bar Councils, expressed during the roundtable discussion "Lawyer's Self-Government: the Ways of Improvement." The event is a joint initiative of the Council for Judicial Reform and the Council of Europe Project " Support to the implementation of the judicial reform in Ukraine." The main topic of the roundtable was the draft law on amendments to the law "On the Bar and Practice of Law," developed by the CJR WorkGroup.
Lidia Izovitova stressed that the current self-government system was built following recommendations of the Venice Commission. The system of representative bodies and qualification-disciplinary chambers assessed in this document as conforming to the standards of the Council of Europe. That is an argument in favor of taking the current model as the basis for further reform.
The WorkGroup's draft law gives grounds for concern, especially - creation of Regional Chambers with mandatory membership for advocates, convocation of conferences in the format of general meetings, the loss of constituency of regional Bar self-government.
UNBA representatives emphasized that the draft law disrupts the balance of powers between the national and regional authorities as well as rattling distribution of functions between different authorities of the same level.
According to Olexiy Fazekosh, the Chair of Bar Council of Zakarpattya Region, the proposed procedure for convocation of conferences will result from the creation of several councils, several registers of advocates, and as a result - constant flow of lawsuits and hence - constant electoral process, which will consume regional advocates' communities for years to come. The lack of stable, legitimate self-government in the regions will result in the collapse of Congress of Advocates of Ukraine, which will mean a collapse of the self-governing system.
Chairman of the Bar Council of Ternopil region Taras Budz expressed objections to recognizing a conference as legitimate where 5% of the lawyers of the region participated. Such a provision opens up the possibility to convocate several conferences in a single region at the same time and, pursuant to their decisions, create several councils of advocates working in parallel.
Concerning the concept of the draft law as a whole, Oleksiy Fazekosh expressed in favor of redistribution of powers between the center and the regions properly accounting for the fact that Ukraine is a unitary country.
Galina Rudenko, the Chair of the Bar Council of the Volyn region, once again reminded that the current law was adopted in full accordance with the Joint Opinion of the Venice Commission and DG-1 from 2011. The system based on it has proved to be effective and able to protect the rights of lawyers. Instead, the draft law will take away the power protect the rights of lawyers from Regional Bar Councils. According to Chair of the Bar Council of Dnipropetrovsk Region Tetyana Leshchenko, the creation of 27 separate Chambers is a failed idea, which resembles the Soviet model very much. At the same time, at the regional level, power will be essentially concentrated in the hands of the Chair of the Chamber. This opinion was supported by Oleksandr Melnikov, Chairman of Bar Council of Luhansk Region, who said that without strong protection from National Bar, individual lawyers would end up in the same conditions as in Soviet times.
Ganna Kolesnik, Chair of UNBA Human Rights Protection Committee, opposed the introduction of regional Bar membership, as this contradicts the right to practice throughout the country.
Representatives of the regional Bar self-government also expressed their opposition to the abolition of the two-level administration of URAU. Reliability of the data on advocates from the whole country cannot be ensured if each region has the opportunity to enter data independently. Also, such a procedure will create a financial burden for regional bar councils. The Chair of the Bar Council of Kirovograd Region expressed the opinion that the legal and technical peculiarities of URAU administration should be coordinated, and their regulation should relate to the powers of BCU, as stipulated by the current law.
The Chair of the Bar Council of Vinnytsia region Olga Tereshchenko warned that unreliable data in URAU would have consequences for the court procedure, as there will be problems with the confirmation of authority and the legal status of advocates.
During the roundtable participants also discussed the grounds for disciplinary liability of advocates and financial aspect of advocate's self-government.
HQDCB Chair Oleksandr Drozdov emphasized that the current system of qualification-disciplinary commissions complies with European standards, as well as their disciplinary practice. Therefore, such a reform, as dividing it into two sub-systems, is inappropriate and, as stated in the Council of Europe Expert Report, does not exist in any European country. Among the changes that need to be introduced to the law in this part, as named by him, are the extension of the grounds for disciplinary liability, imposition of fines, as well as the right of HQDCB's exclusive right for reviewing disciplinary cases.
UNBA and representatives of regional self-government will submit their proposals for amendments to the law at the next meeting of the Council for Judicial Reform scheduled for February 12. The joint position on the CJR WorkGroup's draft law reflected in the said Resolution.
Photo by Yevhen Korol, "Yuridicheskaya Praktika"
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