As you know, the Ukrainian National Bar Association (the UNBA) by its decision of March 30 approved The concept of reforming the procedure for passing the qualification examination for obtaining the right to practice advocacy. In particular, it is determined that from September 1, 2018, passing the qualification exam will take place under the new procedure. Changes are provided both in the order of filing documents for the qualification examination, as well as in the actual procedure of the lawyer's examination. However, how exactly will the new examinations of lawyers be accepted, is still not completely known, because there is a risk of making ill-considered, or even simply, harmful changes to the relevant legislation. All this is in conversation with a lawyer Valentyn Hvozdiy, Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, Council of Lawyers of Ukraine.
Valentyn Hvozdii: "The ill-advised reform will lead to the degradation of the professional level of lawyers"
As you know, the Ukrainian National Bar Association (the UNBA) by its decision of March 30 approved The concept of reforming the procedure for passing the qualification examination for obtaining the right to practice advocacy. In particular, it is determined that from September 1, 2018, passing the qualification exam will take place under the new procedure. Changes are provided both in the order of filing documents for the qualification examination, as well as in the actual procedure of the lawyer's examination. However, how exactly will the new examinations of lawyers be accepted, is still not completely known, because there is a risk of making ill-considered, or even simply, harmful changes to the relevant legislation. All this is in conversation with a lawyer Valentyn Hvozdii, Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, Council of Lawyers of Ukraine.
- Valentyn Anatoliiovych, you personally hold that the draft law "On Amendments to the Law" On Advocacy and Legal Practice "prepared by the Judicial Reform Council complicates access to the profession of lawyer?
- The UNBA has repeatedly expressed its very critical position regarding the bill, which complicates the life of the bar as a whole, including due to ill-conceived changes in the order of access to the profession. In the version of the amendments to the special law that was passed to the last discussion within the Council of judicial reform, examinations may be blocked at all. It is proposed to involve three organs - the regional qualification-disciplinary commissions, regional advisory councils and the HQDCBA - at the same time. The examinations must be attended by three members of the Supreme Audit Commission, for which they, according to the authors of the draft law, must travel to the regions. If you count, then out of the 30 members of the HQDCBA one can form ten such triples. Under such a formula, in practice, it will be impossible to organize a stable admission test in all regions of the country that meets demand. Now the waiting queue is a few hundred on the area, and in the case of such new queue requirements will stop moving at all.
- Objectively, an obstacle will also be the norm of the law, according to which the path to the advocacy is solely through the institution of the lawyer's assistant. After all, the assistant is a paid job, and attorneys do not have the opportunity and need to keep a large number of assistants. If to analyze further, then in this idea with the helpers you can see the corruption component. Does the advocacy reform, which opens new corruption windows, is a rhetorical issue?
Transitional provisions, on the other hand, facilitate access to the profession in a way that would degrade the professional level of lawyers. Because the lawyers simply ask the results of the examinations to accept all lawyers, without the practical experience of speaking in court, etc. In addition, if we assume that such a simple version will be in force until 2021, it will be discrimination against those who will receive education and legal experience after that date.
- Exams for a lawyer - what innovations does the UNBA advocate?
- March 30, the Council of Lawyers of Ukraine approved the Concept of reforming the procedure for passing the qualification exam. This is a very important decision that shows that we are ready for system changes without revising the provisions of the core law and are themselves initiators of the reform processes in the advocacy. The concept is quite revolutionary and involves online registration, online payment, independent choice of exam date and region.
Indeed, the qualification examination procedure will include testing for the identification of theoretical knowledge in the field of law, the history of the advocacy and ethics of the advocate, and practical tasks with the solution of legal tasks, the preparation of procedural and other documents necessary for the lawyer in their daily work. The legal test will include 100 questions, merged into 10 thematic blocks. It will take 2 hours 20 minutes to complete it.
The test results will be stored in the QDCBA, HQDCBA and will be available on the UNBA website. In the case of receiving 94% of the correct answers for the tests, the applicant will be admitted to the second stage of the exam. Practical tasks will include three blocks: criminal law and process, civil / economic / administrative law and process, work with the client (drawing up a contract on legal aid, correct filling the order, consulting, etc.).
During the implementation of the practical task, you will be allowed to use the software League: Law without document templates (or rada.gov.ua) and the Unified Register of court decisions. The duration of the practical part is four and a half hours, at the rate of 1.5 hours per block. When examining practical tasks, the form and content, the legal basis, the ECHR practice and the cleanliness will be assessed.
- Based on the Concept, specially equipped premises with video surveillance and computers should be taken for examinations - at what expense?
- Exactly. We propose to make the process fully automatic and computerized. For content content, testers should be involved, and the actual launch of the system will involve the development of software, equipment of premises in the QDCBA necessary equipment. This is a costly process. I think it will be funded by the advocacy itself, but we would also welcome the intentions of our international partners to provide us with technical assistance.
- Is it possible to minimize corruption risks only by automating the process?
- Corruption risks always arise where decision-making is under the influence of the human factor. Of course, the automation of all stages of exam preparation - from submission of documents to obtaining grades - actually excludes this human factor. I am convinced that this is the most systematic solution to the problem that was proposed so far.
- All variants of questions with answers will be presented on the site of the UNBA for preparation of entrants. When?
- When the system is implemented, tests will be available on the UNBA website. A working group has been formed to deal with the implementation of the concept. The decision of the CLU identifies the first deadline by September 1 of this year.
- What about the situation when the examinations were taken by two councils of lawyers of Kyiv? Did everybody get the status of a lawyer?
- The situation when exams in the city of Kyiv took illegitimate QDCBA, resolved in 2016. The Council of Lawyers of Ukraine in the package of anti-crisis decisions, which concerned the correction of the situation with lawyer's self-government in the capital, recognized the absence of a qualification-disciplinary commission of advocacy established in accordance with the Law of Ukraine "On Advocacy and Legal Practice" in Kyiv, and that its functions in an illegal way was taken over by an organization created on the basis of other legislation, which illegally organized and conducted qualifying exams, made a decision on issuing a certificate in qualifying exams. Another decision of the CL was allowed to persons who have the right to take a qualifying examination in the city of Kyiv, to compile it in any other region of Ukraine prior to the formation of a legitimate QDCBA. Since November 2016, such a QDCBA has been created and there are no alternatives to take exams in the capital than on Borysohlebska Street. Persons who have passed the exam in a illegitimate body - KSQDCBA, have the opportunity to pass this procedure again in the lawfully selected Kyiv Disciplinary Commission.
- Can measures to improve the qualifications of persons who are not involved in the bodies of advocate's self-government?
- At the UNBA there is an Expert Council on the issues of accreditation and certification for the advancement of lawyers. The Expert Council certifies persons admitted to advocacy activities as speakers, lecturers, trainers or experts. This is an open information, and the procedure for passing these procedures is known. Of course, he assumes that advocates can be advocates for lecturers, but experienced lawyers, experts, judges, etc.
- What projects for young lawyers is the UNBA ready to support?
- The UNBA carefully addresses the needs of young lawyers in professional growth, career development, the expansion of professional contacts, lessons learned, and the ambitions of young people to participate in lawyer's self-government. This is done both through separate decisions of the CLU, projects such as the Higher School of Advocacy, other projects that will be announced officially in the near future. The international activity of the UNBA also takes into account the orientation of young specialists for integration into the European advocacy community. On May 18th, in Prague, I met with the President of the International Association of Young Lawyers. We discussed the possibility of the UNBA joining this organization. It will also strengthen our youth policy and our institutional partners.
- Do they support creation of a law school in the regions in the CLU?
- The UNBA supports any projects aimed at raising the level of lawyers' professionalism. Given the dynamically changing legislation, the demand for continuing education is unlikely to exceed the supply in the near future.
Serhii Kozlov spoke
An interview with Valentyn Hvozdii was published on the site of the news agency “ZRADA”