Conference on Specialisation, 15 April 2016, Katowice, Poland

January 28th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

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Participation is free of charge. Participants are however asked to register by email: konferencja@oirp.katowice.pl

Simultaneous translation into English will be provided.

The conference programme can be downloaded here. See also the Training post of 15 January 2016 for more information.

CCJE – Opinion NO. 18 (2015) on “The position of the judiciary and its relation with the other powers of state in a modern democracy”

January 22nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Opinion NO. 18 was prepared by the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) on the basis of previous CCJE Opinions, the CCJE Magna Charta of Judges (2010), and relevant instruments of the Council of Europe, in particular the European Charter on the Statute for Judges (1998), and Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 of the Committee of Ministers on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities.

The reason for adopting this Opinion is that there have been a number of conflicts and tensions in recent years between the three powers of the state (legislative, executive and judicial).

For example, in some member states, the executive exercises considerable influence over the administration of the judiciary, thereby bringing into question the institutional independence of the judiciary and the independence of individual judges. Other concerns are economic crises leading to chronic underfunding of the judicial system in several member states, a lack of legislation or (at the other extreme) rapidly changing legislation. In addition, politicians and the media have suggested that judiciaries are not sufficiently “accountable” to society.

Therefore, the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) resolved to reflect upon the legitimacy and accountability of the judiciary and the proper relationship between the three powers of state in a modern democracy and their responsibilities towards not only one another but also to society in general in the 21st century. To this effect they issued Opinion NO. 18.

This Opinion examines the following questions:

“i. What relationship should there be between the judicial power of a state and the legislative and the executive powers?

ii. On what bases do judiciaries establish their right to act as such in a democratic society? How is the “legitimacy” of judicial power demonstrated?

iii. To what extent and in what ways should judiciaries be accountable to the societies they serve and to the other powers of the state?

iv. How can the three powers of the state exercise their respective authority in such a way as to achieve and maintain a proper balance between themselves and also act in the interest of the society they all serve?”

The full text of Opinion NO. 18 can be read here.

Poland: Draft law on amendments to the law on Police and other acts

January 13th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

 On 12 January 2016, the CCBE sent a letter to Mr Marek Kuchciński, Marshal of the Sejm (speaker of the lower house of the Polish parliament) concerning the Polish draft law on amendments to the Act on Police and to other acts related to the state secret services, in particular, in relation to the regulation of data surveillance and data retention. These amendments are proposed as fulfilling the requirements laid down in the judgment of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal dated 30 July 2014. The particular concern of the CCBE is related to the provisions on access to information protected by the professional secrecy of advocates and legal advisers.

The CCBE considers that it is a fundamental element of the rule of law, including the right to a fair trial, the secrecy of a client’s communications with his lawyers should be inviolable. CCBE is concerned that the draft law does not fully respect fundamental principles laid down in the Convention and in the jurisprudence of the Court, and calls upon the Sejm of the Republic of Poland to ensure that amendments to the Act on Police and other Acts respect and guarantee the fundamental rights of its citizens and are compatible with principles of international law binding Poland, including, in particular, the European Convention of Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Court of Justice of the EU respectively.

The full letter can be found here.

PECO Profile: the Slovak Republic

January 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The Slovak Republic has a population of approximately 5.5 million and 6000 lawyers (in 2015). The Slovak Bar Association was set up in 1990 and has been a full member of CCBE since 2005, after being an observer member since 1990 (until 1992 as part of Czechoslovakia, later on representing Slovak legal profession).

President of the Bar, JUDr. Ľubomír Hrežďovič

Key information about the profession:

  • Initial training of lawyers: Both Bachelor (3 years) and Master (2 years) in legal studies are required. 5 year traineeship period with compulsory attendance on seminars is organised four times a year plus seminars on legal ethics and office management. The bar exam at the end of the traineeship period consists of a written test and an oral exam.
  • Continuous training: Continuous training is not mandatory but offered on a voluntary basis to all lawyers by the Bar three times a year in a form of a 2 day conference on various legal aspects, further training activities depend on the actual need and offer (workshops, seminars, conferences).
  • Specialisation: This is not part of the university studies nor is it covered by the Act on Legal Profession. Any “specialisation” in relation to lawyer´s occupation is only in practical sense and stems from the experience acquired in the course of lawyer´s work. In 2012 a list of professional subject fields was introduced on the Slovak Bar Association official website and in the registry as additional search criterion. The list serves clients in order to find lawyers according to their experience.
  • Discipline: The disciplinary proceeding is conducted by a three member disciplinary panel appointed by the Chairman of the Slovak Bar Association Disciplinary Committee from among its members. All members are lawyers. The Disciplinary Committee of Appeal decides about the appeals in disciplinary proceedings.
  • Legal Aid: National Centre for Legal Aid established by the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the provision of legal aid in civil, family, labour law and asylum cases (in cross-border disputes commercial law is included) by way of its employees as well as lawyers who expressed their will to be on the list of legal aid lawyers. Lawyers´ fees are reimbursed according to their statement of accounts by the Centre which acts as a state budgetary organisation. In criminal law matters lawyers are assigned ex offo to persons in material need and expenses are reimbursed by courts.

Current concerns of the Bar and main challenges in the coming years:

  • Trainee lawyers – Slovak Bar Association took various steps in order to improve the quality of the traineeship period. The traineeship was prolonged to five years.
  • Ethics and office management – Law firms as well as Slovak Bar Association are beginning to focus more on the issues related to firm management itself, its ethics and accompanying practical problems that might have partially led to the some negative developments in legal practice. Slovak Bar Association responded to this development by the introduction of lectures and seminars on ethics in legal profession that take place throughout the whole traineeship period.
  • Illicit trading – the Slovak Bar Association is concerned with a widespread form of unauthorised trading in the course of which legal services are provided in an unauthorised way (eg. legal representation under the guise of civil representation, an extension of officially claimed services to legal services). The Slovak Bar Association organises meetings with the representatives of courts and prosecutors in order to discuss how to tackle this problem in the future. It suggests courts not allow the presence of these self-proclaimed legal representatives during the court proceedings and it urges that this criminal offence be properly prosecuted as crime of unauthorised trading.