Legislation on advocacy needs stability - Lydia Izovitova

Advocacy 14:26 Mon 09.11.20 105 Reviews Print

Head of UNBA and BCU, Lydia Izovitova took part in the 10th-anniversary international scientific-practical conference "Advocacy: past, present, and future". The event is organized by the National University "Odessa Law Academy".

In her welcoming speech, the UNBA Chairman reminded how the legislation on the bar was formed during the modern history of Ukraine. The Law on Advocacy of December 19, 1992, was adopted, which for the first time in Ukraine defined and began to regulate the status of the attorney. This law deprived authorities, in particular the Ministry of Justice, of the function to monitor and control the bar, thus it became truly independent. Then the Bar initiated the adoption of the Law "On the Bar and Legal Practice" in 2012.

"Thanks to the Bar Association, we received the Law “On the Bar and Legal Practice "dated July 5, 2012. We always take the position that this is a European legal act. He puts the Ukrainian bar on a par with the bars of democratic States of Europe in terms of its status and the scope of professional guarantees,” - Lydia Izovitova stressed.

However, since 2016 the attempts have been made to radically change this law, or rather to make it worse. These attempts were made during the next stage of judicial reform, which was expected to reform the institutions related to the judiciary.

"There was an attempt to involve advocacy in the process of unsystematic politicized unprofessional changes to the law. The reform of the bar in the state, which has the newest Law on the Bar in Europe developed on the basis of the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, looked strange," the UNBA President said.

However, this process had two unacceptable parameters: deviation from the already implemented European standards and the exclusion of attorneys from the process of preparing the reform of relevant legislation.

"Unfortunately, the professional judicial community has not been able to defend its right to vote, and this is one of the obvious reasons for the failure of judicial reform. However, attorneys defended the right to participate in the development of changes and blocked unacceptable restrictions on professional rights," -Lydia Izovitova said.

Nowadays, the legislation on the bar needs stability, although there are attempts to change it. "Chaotic attempts to change the status of the bar are made not through the changes of our profile law. We are witnessing the adoption of certain legislative acts that try to bring attorneys under the control. This is an attempt of the Ministry of Justice to introduce the so-called peer review in the system of free legal aid, which constitutes an interference in the activities and legal position of an attorney, and violates the principle of legal secrecy. This includes financial monitoring, the introduction of the status of whistleblowers at the legal level, and the preparation of the draft on public electronic registers that threatens the status of the Bar Council of Ukraine,” - the UNBA Chairman commented, noting that legal secrecy was attacked by non-professional legislative initiatives.

The work of attorneys has become extremely difficult due to objective obstacles to access to justice and the violation of the principles of equality and adversarial proceedings. This is especially noted by the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. Attorneys are under public pressure, the main tool of which is the identification of attorneys and clients. Additional problems arose during the COVID-19 pandemic when judges openly used quarantine restrictions to discriminate the defense.

"If the European institution - the Venice Commission - insists on the stability of the legislation on the judiciary, this approach should be applied to the legislation on the bar. The current law made it possible to create an effective system of bar self-government bodies, guaranteed the independent activity of lawyers, and a large number of professional rights. Further changes to the legislation should provide answers to the real problems of the bar, not artificial assessments," the UNBA Chairman emphasized.

Such problems are the proper protection of lawyers' rights and the inevitability of liability for their violations. "Sooner or later we will have to improve our profile law and we have been working for a long time to improve its quality. I hope that its quality and content will depend only on our will, professionalism, and ability to offer working solutions," Lydia Izovitova said.

The topics of the conference included various aspects of the legal profession - from legal education, practical advocacy to the case-law of the European Court and the history of the legal profession in Ukraine. The event was held on the eve of the 8th anniversary of UNBA, which will be celebrated on November 17.

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