UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers – Advance Report

June 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

In the advance report of 9 June 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur presents his perspective on the mandate.

The Rapporteur identified four broad areas of concern: (1) judicial indpendence; (2) corruption, organised crime and the indepdence judges and lawyers; (3) protection of the legal profession; and (4) restrictions to the right to a fair trial and due process of law.

Concerning the ‘protection of the legal profession’, the Rapporteur states:

89. The Special Rapporteur takes note of the existing barriers and threats faced by lawyers around the world and will analyse this issue in future reports.

119. Bar associations, institutions that have a vital role to play in upholding professional standards and ethics, must assume their responsibilities in this respect and embrace both the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

127. The Special Rapporteur encourages all States, bar associations and lawyers’ organizations to endorse the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and to disseminate their content, so that they may be fully known by all authorities and members of the legal profession.

131. It is the responsibility of States to ensure security and physical protection for all members of the legal profession in order to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. One of the priorities must be to set out a protocol that would allow detecting and dealing with such circumstances.

The Report has been prepared for the Human Rights Council on 6-23 June 2017.

Links:

Post of 13 January 2017 on the UN Special Rapporteur.

UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

PECO seminar, 30 September 2016, Tirana, Albania

June 30th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

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Maksim R. Haxhia, President, Albanian Bar

In partnership with the Albanian Bar Association, the CCBE will hold a PECO seminar on 30 September in Tirana, Albania.

The seminar will discuss the “Core Values of the Legal Profession and Enforcement Mechanisms”, as well as “The Organisation of Initial and Continuous Training and the Use of New Training Methods”. In addition to these topics, the seminar will host a presentation of the World Bank’s report ‘Comparative analysis of Bars and Law Societies in selected EU Member States and Serbia’. The objective of the report is to take a closer look at rules governing the functioning of bars and law societies, including their entrance requirements, decision-making and administrative capacities, discipline and inter-bar relations. The Council of Europe will also attend and give a presentation on the ‘Human Rights Education of Legal Professionals’ programme (HELP).

A programme will be available shortly.

 

New Law on Notarial Practice in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

April 25th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

On 5 April 2016, the Parliament of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia adopted a new Law on Notarial Practice. The new Law on Notarial Practice abolishes the notarial act as a mandatory act. According to the new law, legal documents shall be drafted as private documents by lawyers and then validated by public notaries. In addition, the new legal solution provides for the presence of attorneys and mandatory lawyer stamps in all proceedings that are of essential importance to the citizens. Adoption of the new law means that, from now on, lawyers will be active participants in more legal situations. The text of the full law can be downloaded here in Macedonian.

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.

Interview with Ranko Pelicaric, Chair of the CCBE PECO committee

December 18th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Brussels , Belgium October , 18/2013 Council of Bars Law societies of Europe © Reporters / Michel Gouverneur

Ranko Pelicaric is a practicing lawyer based in Zagreb, Croatia. He is a former President of the Croatian Bar Association (from 2000 to 2006). Since February 2015, he has been chairman of the CCBE PECO Committee. He is also member of the Board of CBA, past President of the Local Bar of Zagreb and past representative of the CBA to the UIA.

1.What does PECO stand for?

 PECO is an abbreviation of the French ‘Pays de l’Europe centrale et orientale’ which simply means ‘Countries of Central and Eastern Europe’.

 2. What is the main role of the PECO Committee?

 The PECO Committee aims to promote the Rule of Law and support the law reform process in Central and Eastern Europe. It has 38 members. The PECO Bars and Law Societies meet on a regular basis – around four times a year – in order to discuss developments concerning the legal profession in their countries or to voice any concerns. On these occasions, a Bar or Law Society might, for instance, simply report about reforms which are being carried out in its country but it may also ask the CCBE to intervene in a national matter or provide assistance, for example, when it believes that lawyers’ rights are being violated or the core values of the profession are at stake. The CCBE – through its PECO Committee – will look into the concerns raised by Bars and may provide assistance by issuing expert views and letters of support, or by carrying out surveys on national rules, or by sending expert lawyers to meetings and conferences in PECO countries, or by organising conferences and seminars on professional issues such as training of lawyers, ethics or mediation. The type of assistance will very much depend on the specific needs of the relevant PECO Bar/Law Society.

3. Which were the main concerns of the PECO Committee in the past? Which are the main concerns nowadays? 

The main concerns of the PECO Committee in the past remain the same as nowadays, in my view. Our main concern is the situation of legal profession in PECO countries, where lawyers’ rights are continuously violated as a result of their professional work (e.g. harassment, imprisonment, disbarment). The Committee has also been dealing with a number of other issues of different nature – I would like to give two examples of recurrent matters:

–          Rights of audience: for example, in Moldova, in 2014 and 2015, a number of members of the Moldovan Parliament promoted an initiative to amend the Code of Civil Procedure in order to expand the list of persons to be allowed to appear as representatives in proceedings before civil courts. The CCBE wrote to the Parliament to raise its concerns with these initiatives. The matter is also under discussion in Ukraine. Under current Ukrainian legislation, any person in Ukraine – without legal education – can provide legal advice to clients and represent them in courts in civil proceedings. Again, the CCBE intervened with a letter. It also participated in a conference on this theme in Kiev in June 2015.

–          Legal aid: national legal aid regimes have caused some problems and concerns, for instance in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine. For example, in Ukraine, legal aid is provided by Legal Aid Centers. Lawyers working in these Centers have to pass a competition organized by the Ministry of Justice. Many say that these centers are not independent. The CCBE has started looking into the problems and concerns raised by the various Bars.

4. What are the plans of the PECO Committee for 2016?

  • In May 2016, the CCBE Plenary will decide on the membership application of the Ukrainian National Bar Association. This is an important moment. The CCBE has already developed close relations with the Bar over the past two years, and in particular this year, when it organised together with the International Bar Association and the European Lawyers Foundation a conference in Kiev in June, in support of the Ukrainian National Bar Association and their plead for lawyers’ representation in civil court proceedings.
  • The Committee is planning to organise a seminar on legal aid together with the Bar Association of Albania. The date and the details of the programme are to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
  • The Committee will continue to follow very closely developments in Georgia. The physical violations which lawyers have been subject to over past years, as well as the violation of lawyers’ rights have caused particular concern in the CCBE. The CCBE wrote about it to the Georgian authorities in February 2014, June 2014 and 2015 and it has also taken up the issue at a European level. There have been improvements, but more needs to be done.
  • Turkey has been in the centre of a number of discussions in the PECO Committee. The overall situation for lawyers in Turkey has been very difficult over the past years. The PECO Committee will continue to monitor this situation.
  • The Committee will continue strengthening its contacts with the Bars in Belarus and Azerbaijan.

5. Can you tell us about the current challenges for lawyers in Croatia?

There are many, I could write an essay on the topic but, if I am to mention the two most important ones, it would be strengthening the professional and the social image of the lawyers and of the Bar. I am aware that it is very wide statement, but I really believe that with professional and with social image in our métier everything begins and everything ends. These two prerogatives are sine qua non for changing the lawyer’s position to better.

European Lawyers Day

December 10th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Today is European Lawyers Day, a day which marks European lawyers honoring World Human Rights Day. It is a national day to celebrate the rule of law and the legal profession’s intrinsic role in its defence, as well as lawyers’ common values and contribution to the justice system.

This year’s theme is Freedom of Speech, and refers to all forms of expression, including lawyers’ own freedom of speech.

European Lawyers Day 2015

Bars and Law Societies throughout Europe are organizing events and activities to publicly acknowledge the importance of freedom of speech and to highlight the role of the legal profession within the administration of justice.

More information on European Lawyers Day can be found here.