The status of a lawyer is not about privileges, but about standards of behaviour, - Solodko

16:00 Thu 07.09.23 58 Reviews

During the search of the apartment, the lawyer apparently decided to get rid of unnecessary information and probably threw his phone and flash drives from the balcony. However, such «methods of defence» were recorded by law enforcement officers.

Yevhen Solodko, a member of the Ukrainian National Bar Association's Committee on Protection of Advocates' Rights and Guarantees of Legal Practice, took part in the investigation, which was conducted by detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau on the basis of a ruling of the High Anti-Corruption Court.

Pursuant to Art. 23 of the Law on the Bar and Practice of Law, a representative of the bar self-government body must be present during the search or inspection of the advocate's home or other property, premises where he or she carries out the practice of law, and temporary access to the advocate's belongings and documents. In order to ensure his or her participation, the official who will conduct the relevant investigative action or apply the measure of restraint in criminal proceedings shall notify the bar council of the region at the place of such procedural action in advance. In order to protect the professional secrecy, the representative shall be entitled to ask questions, submit his or her comments and objections to the procedure for conducting procedural actions specified in the protocol.

While searching the balcony of an apartment, detectives noticed that a phone and several flash drives were lying on the ground below it. When one of the law enforcement officers dialled the number of the lawyer whose apartment was being searched, the phone under the balcony started ringing. In this regard, an additional group of NABU officers was called in to inspect the area under the balcony of the searched apartment.

«The status of an attorney-at-law is not only guarantees of activity, which some people mistakenly consider privileges. It also means higher standards of behaviour (compared to ordinary citizens) and respect for the legal profession», said Solodko.

He referred to Articles 12, 12-1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, according to which a lawyer in all his activities must affirm respect for the legal profession, which he represents, its essence and public purpose, and contribute to the preservation and enhancement of respect for it in society. The advocate shall adhere to this principle not only in his or her professional activities, but also in public, journalistic and other spheres. The advocate must also be of good character, honestly and with dignity perform his or her professional duties.

«However, the established guarantees do not so much protect a person as ensure compliance with all the principles and foundations of the legal profession», the UNBA representative stressed. Thus, in particular, according to Art. 23 of the Law:

  • operational and investigative measures or investigative actions, which may be carried out only with the permission of the court, shall be carried out against the advocate on the basis of a court decision made at the request of the Prosecutor General, his or her deputies, the prosecutor of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, region, city of Kyiv and city of Sevastopol;
  • it is prohibited to inspect, disclose, demand or seize documents related to the practice of law;
  • interference with the advocate's private communication with a client is prohibited.
  • in case of search or inspection of the advocate's home or other property, premises where he or she carries out the practice of law, temporary access to the advocate's belongings and documents, the investigating judge or court shall specify in its decision the list of things and documents to be searched, discovered or seized.

«It is clear that such actions of the advocate during the search hardly embellish him as a professional. But there are other questions: was he honest, did he behave with integrity and dignity, can we talk about the assertion of respect for the legal profession? And they are the criteria of proper behaviour established by the Rules of Professional Conduct. And the answers to them may well become the subject of consideration in a disciplinary case in the future. If, of course, the relevant complaint is received by the CDQA», warns Solodko.

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