EU report: Evaluation of Ukrainian reforms shows considerable progress but need to accelerate implementation to reap full benefits

November 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The report, which was published yesterday, provides in section 2.3 ‘Justice, Freedom and Security’, amongst others: “The implementation of justice reforms continued. The perceived level of judicial independence remains very low but is increasing according to the latest survey by the World Economic Forum of businesses’ perceptions.”

The report is available here (see pages 6-8 for section 2.3 ‘Justice, Freedom and Security’).

Joint UNBA-CCBE conference on Advocates’ Rights and Obligations in Investigative Proceedings

October 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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Date: 10 November 2017

Place: Kiev, Ukraine

Programme: click here to access the programme.

Council of Europe: Outcome of the Parliamentary Assembly session on 10-13 October 2017

October 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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PACE, 10-13 October 2017, Strasbourg

Amongst others, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) concluded as follows at its session:

New threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States: selected examples: Resolution 2188 (2017) of the Parliamentary Assembly

“The Assembly has thoroughly examined the situation in five member States: Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Turkey. Although the list of problems found in those States does not include all of those to be found in Council of Europe member States, the Assembly is concerned about some recent developments which put at risk respect for the rule of law, and, in particular, the independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers. This is mainly due to tendencies to limit the independence of the judiciary made though attempts to politicise the judicial councils and the courts (mainly in Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey), massive revocation of judges and prosecutors (Turkey) or attempts to do so (Poland) and tendencies to limit the legislative power of the parliament (the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Turkey). Moreover, corruption, which is a major challenge to the rule of law, remains a widespread phenomenon in Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova and Romania.” (To read the entire Resolution, click here.)

Venice Commission’s “Rule of Law Checklist”

The Assembly decides to:

6.1. endorse the Venice Commission’s Rule of Law Checklist;
6.2. use it systematically in its work, particularly in the preparation of reports of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), in order to accurately identify any structural and systemic problems in the Council of Europe’s member States;
6.3. invite the national parliaments and government bodies, including the relevant ministries, when assessing the need for and the content of legislative reform, to refer systematically to the Rule of Law Checklist;
6.4. invite international and regional organisations, including the Council of Europe as a whole and the European Union, to refer regularly to the Rule of Law Checklist in their relevant work. In this connection, the Assembly congratulates the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on having taken the Rule of Law Checklist into account in his 2017 annual report on the situation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe, and urges him to do so systematically in all his future annual reports;
6.5. encourage civil society to use the Rule of Law Checklist to objectively assess respect for the rule of law.
(To read the entire document, click here.)
Please click here for more information on the results of the PACE session.

UNBA-CCBE Joint Conference, 10 November 2017, Kiev

September 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) and CCBE will hold a joint conference on 10 November 2017 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The conference will discuss ‘Advocates’ rights and obligations in investigative proceedings’, including the following issues:

a) Searches of advocate’s premises and seizures of documents and computer equipment;

b) Summoning advocates as witnesses in cases against their clients;

c) Demands for privileged documents and information;

d) Covert investigative actions against an advocate;

e) Damage to advocates’ property during investigative actions;

f) Denying advocates’ access to the location under investigative actions;

g) Criminal liability for providing legal advice.

More information on the conference will be made available in due course on this Blog.

‘Defence of the defenders’ letters to Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina

March 28th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The CCBE addressed two letters of concern to authorities in Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 28 February, the CCBE sent a letter regarding physical attacks on lawyers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 16 March, another letter was sent to Ukraine, concerning the killings of lawyers Tetyana Popova and Valery Rybalchenko.

Ukraine- Independence and self-regulation of the Bar

February 3rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On Thursday, 02 February 2017, the CCBE sent a letter to the President of Ukraine, to the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and to the Chair of the parliamentary Justice Committee, in which the CCBE emphasises the importance that the state must respect the independence and the self-regulation principles applying to the legal profession, also in regard to the right of the bars to set their own membership fees. Read full letter here.

PECO Country Profile: Ukraine

February 2nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Ukraine has a population of approximately 43 million and 35000 registered advocates (as of January 2017). The Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) has been established by law in 2012 as an independent self-governed organization. UNBA has joined the CCBE as an observer member in December 2016.

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Key information about the profession:

  • Initial training of lawyers: Complete higher legal education (master’s degree in law), command of official language and two years of practice in the field of law are required to take the bar exam. It is then necessary to undertake a 6-month traineeship program. Upon completion of traineeship, the certificate of right to practice law is issued and the information is entered in the Unified Register of Advocates of Ukraine.Persons who have worked as an advocate’s assistant for at least one year are exempt from undertaking the 6-month traineeship program.
  • Continuous training is mandatory. It is organized by the Ukrainian National Bar Association and regional bar councils, as well as other organizations. All of the lecturers undergo certification by the UNBA Expert Committee to ensure high professional level of the speakers. Failure to comply with the mandatory continuous training is a disciplinary offense.
  •  Specialization is not mandatory. Advocates are free to choose the field in which to practice.
  •  Discipline: Regional Qualification and Disciplinary Commissions of the Bar (QDCB) are in charge of reviewing disciplinary actions against advocates. They are composed of advocates, elected at regional conferences for a 5-year term. The decisions of QDCBs may be appealed to the Higher Qualification and Disciplinary Commission of the Bar, which is composed of 30 advocates, 27 elected by respective regional conferences and 3, the President and two Vice-Presidents – elected by the Congress of Advocates of Ukraine.
  • Legal Aid: the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine is in charge of the legal aid system in Ukraine. It is financed by the government. Ukrainian National Bar Association has criticized the system on both national and international level and even prepared a special report on the subject. Primary concerns of the UNBA in this regard is the process of admission of advocates by the Ministry of Justice to provide legal aid (additional exams, even though everyone has already passed the bar exam); non-transparent financing; the fact that directors of regional legal aid centers are often not advocates themselves, and advocates have to show the case files to them in order to get paid, thus violating professional secrecy etc.

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

Current concerns:

  • One of the gravest concerns is the continuous violation of advocates’ professional rights and guarantees by government institutions and law enforcement agencies. Since 2015 CCBE has intervened on a number of occasions with letters addressed to the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, the Prosecutor General and other notable officials. The Prosecutor General and his deputy even used inappropriate language when addressing advocates during a hearing of a parliamentary committee and on national TV respectively.
  • On 20 December 2016, the parliament of Ukraine approved amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine, that in turn, amended Law of Ukraine ‘On the Bar and Practice of Law’, thus limiting the existing discretion of advocates’ self-government to set the sum and procedure of payment of yearly membership fees, as well as traineeship fees. Such changes were introduced without any prior consultation with Ukrainian National Bar Association whatsoever. The CCBE has addressed the President of Ukraine with this regard on 23 December 2016.
  • There is a plan for 2017 to introduce amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Practice of Law” by the Judicial Reform Council under the auspices of the President of Ukraine. The UNBA, being the regulator of the profession, has not even been invited to delegate members in such an important institution. The planned amendments have not been discussed by the government with the regional bars and UNBA and thus are strongly opposed on both the regional and national levels.

Main challenges:

  • Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine establishing mandatory court representation by advocates have been approved by the parliament of Ukraine in 2016. The amendments come into effect in stages:
    • 1 January 2017 – Supreme Court of Ukraine and cassation courts;
    • 1 January 2018 – Appellate courts;
    • 1 January 2019 – all courts in Ukraine.

These changes are very welcome. However, we expect a significant rise in number of registered advocates, since before this reform one was only required to become an advocate if he wished to practice criminal law. Therefore, as of right now there are a lot of unregulated legal practitioners (the numbers are in the thousands) which will become advocates in the nearest future.

EU and Denmark launch Euro 16 million EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine

February 2nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The objective of the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative is to strengthen the capacity of the newly created anti-corruption institutions and to enhance external oversight over the reform process by the Verkhovna Rada, civil society and the media. Continue to read here.

CCBE addresses Ukrainian National Bar Association concerns

January 12th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The CCBE addressed concerns communicated by the Ukrainian National Bar Association during the last weeks of December in a letter sent to the president of Ukraine, Mr. Petro Poroshenko. The UNBA has informed the PECO committee that a bill was passed in the morning of the 21 December that would amend provisions in the Law on Advocacy, especially regarding the lawyers’ self-governing bodies’ discretion on establishing the sums and the procedure of paying yearly Bar membership fees. On another note, the CCBE was concerned with worrying information from Ukraine regarding defamatory  language addressed to lawyers in national media and in the national parliament. The UNBA feels that such language influences negatively public opinion on the legal profession. The UNBA has become an observer member of the CCBE in December 2016.

Ukrainian National Bar Association has become observer member of the CCBE

December 6th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

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The application of the Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) for observer membership was approved by the CCBE Plenary on 2 December 2016.

The UNBA was established in 2012 after the adoption of the ‘Law on the Bar and Practice of Law’ on 5 July 2012 by the Ukrainian Parliament. It is the official regulator and self-governing body of the legal profession in Ukraine.

The UNBA succeeds the Union of Advocates of Ukraine which has been an observer member in the CCBE since 2003.