Approval by the Presidential Decree no. 276 of 20 May 2015 of the Strategy of reforming the judiciary and related legal institutions for 2015-2020 could not put aside the bar. Moreover, we understood imperfection of the adopted Law of Ukraine "On the Bar and Practice of Law", which was the result of a two-decade desire of the advocates’ community to turn the bar into the nationwide non-profit professional organization.
"Spider web" for the bar
"Laws are a spider web. Big flies go through it, while the small get stuck" - Montesquieu.
Approval by the Presidential Decree no. 276 of 20 May 2015 of the Strategy of reforming the judiciary and related legal institutions for 2015-2020 could not put aside the bar. Moreover, we understood imperfection of the adopted Law of Ukraine "On the Bar and Practice of Law", which on the one hand was the result of a two-decade desire of the advocates’ community to turn the bar into the nationwide non-profit professional organization. On the other, however, its apparent imperfection was reflected in the fact that before the adoption of our specialized law another law was adopted, which provided for the creation of a legal aid system in Ukraine.
However, as an advocate with 35 years of experience, I should recall that this type of legal assistance existed at all times. Still, it existed in various forms, without a determined system, which, in my opinion, is somewhat reminiscent of the model of subordination on the part of the Ministry of Justice, which existed in the bar of Ukraine until 1993. In particular, it included a possibility of checking not only the amount of fees received by advocated and the quality of their legal assistance, but even their legal position.
Despite the signature of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ukrainian National Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine in the sphere of legal aid, which took place on 19 November 2013, we advocates continued to see in the existence of this type of legal assistance a first step of the State authorities made for making the bar dependent on the State. Unfortunately, as it turned out subsequently, we were not mistaken.
This threat has become more serious after draft the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On the Bar and Practice of Law" was published on the official website of the Council of judicial reforms.
I would like to recall that the position of Transcarpathian advocates on this issue has been fully and constructively highlighted in several publications of Mr Oleksiy Fazekosh, Chairman of the Transkarpathian Bar Council, including his presentations at the Conference about the proposed changes to the legislation held on 25 March 2016.
It boils down to the following: only we advocates as self-employed persons should be responsible for developing amendments to the specialized law, and not to become "hostages" of the government, any other authorities or political powers.
Dear colleagues! We need to understand that this is a kind of “spider web” for the bar; everything depends on us only. After all, we have much to be proud of. Despite the negative tendencies that still exist concerning the violations of advocates’ professional rights and guarantees, in the end of 2015 the Strategy of development of the bar, which was the result of a productive, balanced and wise activity of the UNBA management led by Lydia Izovitova, received a high praise of the international legal community, as the UNBA became a member of the International Bar Association (IBA). Our leader has recently presented the assessment of the state of the bar in Ukraine to the Standing Committee of the Council of Bars and Legal Societies of Europe (CCBE); Mr Valentyn Gvozdiy, the UNBA Deputy President, and Mr Ivan Grechkivskyy, Head of the UNBA International Relations Committee, for the first time attended the 44th Conference of Presidents of bar associations in Europe.
This and other powerful international support is important in view of the fact that many external factors continue to oppose the UNBA success.
In this difficult time when the very fact of the continued existence of independent legal profession is at stake, we must put collective efforts to preserve our basic principle, which is much more important than our own ambitions, old or new insults or someone’s local unfulfilled ambitions.
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