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.

Belarus: CCBE expresses concerns over Belarus lawyers and recertification

September 22nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 12 September 2017, the President of the CCBE addressed a letter to the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko expressing the CCBE’s concerns over the situation of Belarus lawyers, including Mr Pavel Sapelko (who was rewarded with the CCBE Human Rights Awards in 2012).

The Ministry of Justice of Belarus ordered certification of several lawyers, which according to the CCBE can be an instrument of the authorities to pressure the legal community.
Read more here.

Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law

September 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Nils Engstad, President of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), noted (amongst others) in his intervention at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on 19 September 2017:

“Therefore, shortcomings in a domestic judicial system can never be a valid argument for politicization or a full governmental take-over of the judiciary.

12. Why so? Because politicization of and political pressure on judiciaries and prosecutors may cause self-censorship and have a chilling-effect on judicial independence and impartiality. Politicization of courts and prosecutors is likely to be followed by adoption of acts and implementation of actions causing widespread negative effects on media-freedom, on the freedom of expression, on the independence of lawyers, on the work of human rights activists and human rights NGOs.”

His intervention can be downloaded here.

CCBE supports the Georgian Bar Association’s proposed reforms

September 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The CCBE addressed a letter to the Georgian Parliament in which it expressed its full support to the reforms proposed by the Georgian Bar Association. The CCBE urged the Parliament to take forward the following proposals:

(-) To end the existing prohibition of the Bar President to practice

A CCBE survey in 2015, showed that in none of the responding countries (23), the Bar President was prohibited from practicing. Bars and Law Societies consider it crucial that their presidents are practicing lawyers as they are aware through their daily practice about the prevailing issues that the profession is facing. Prohibiting a Bar President to practice would constitute a real economic risk as the he/she might loose his/her client base during tenure. The matter is traditionally part of the self-regulatory competences of the bars and law societies.

(-) To provide for a comprehensive framework for the internship programme

According to the proposals of the Georgian Bar Association, future lawyers would have to follow three months of training at the High School of Advocates which includes courses on legal skills, management skills, as well as other professional skills which are important to the practice of the profession. The trainee lawyers would then need to carry out nine months of practical training in a law firm, supervised by a lawyer. Trainee lawyers will need to observe the standards of professional conduct of the Georgian Bar during their internship. The CCBE believes that the proposed reform will greatly contribute to further a high standard of legal training and professional competence. They take account of the CCBE Training Outcomes for European Lawyers of 2007.

The CCBE letter can be downloaded here.

Poland: Independence of the judiciary – EC takes second step in infringement procedure against Poland

September 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Please read for the details the press release of the European Commission of 12/09.

Save the Date: CCBE Training Conference, 14 Dec. 2017, Brussels

August 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The Conference will be held in English.

Further information will follow in the coming weeks.

ECHR: ‘Decision to restrict communication between lawyer and accused on the grounds of protecting States secrets was contrary to the Convention’

July 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

In 2014 a former member of the Netherlands security service (AIVD) was charged of having disclosed state secrets to unauthorised persons. Prior to his trial, he was informed by the secret service that it would be constitutive of a further criminal offence if he were to discuss the matters covered by his duty of secrecy with anyone including his counsel.

During the appeal proceedings he and his counsel complained over the security service restrictions affecting the defence.

The applicant complained before the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that his trial had been unfair and that (inter alia) Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) had been violated. He stated that the security service had exercised decisive control over the evidence, restricting his and domestic courts’ access to it and controlling its use, thus preventing him from instructing his defence counsel effectively.

The Court held that without professional advice, an individual who was facing serious criminal charges could not be expected to weigh up the benefits of disclosing his case in full to a lawyer against the risk of further prosecution for doing so. Consequently, there had been a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) as the fairness of the proceedings had been irretrievably compromised by the interference with communication between the applicant and his lawyer.

Read more here.

European Commission acts to preserve the rule of law in Poland

July 26th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Brussels, 26 July 2017 – Press release of the European Commission

The Commission substantiates its grave concerns on the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland in a Rule of Law Recommendation addressed to the Polish authorities. In the Commission’s assessment, this reform amplifies the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland already identified in the rule of law procedure started by the Commission in January 2016. The Commission requests the Polish authorities to address these problems within one month. The Commission asks the Polish authorities notably not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges. If such a measure is taken, the Commission stands ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure[1] – a formal warning by the EU that can be issued by four fifths of the Member States in the Council of Ministers…

Continue to read here the full press release of the European Commission.

Poland: President will not sign Act on the Supreme Court and Act on the National Council of the Judiciary

July 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 24 July 2017, the President of the Republic of Poland declared that he will veto the bills on the Supreme Court and on the National Council of the Judiciary. However, the Act amending the Law on the Common Courts Organisation will be signed. Read more here.

Poland: CCBE expresses serious concerns over recent Acts on the judiciary

July 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 18 July 2017, the President of the CCBE addressed a letter to the President of the Republic of Poland expressing the CCBE’s concerns about the amendments adopted to the Polish Act on the National Council of the Judiciary and the Act amending the Law on Common Courts Organisation, as well as the new draft Act on the Supreme Court which the Polish Parliament received.

The CCBE points out that:

– The amendment to the Act of the National Council of the Judiciary gives a substantial role to politicians in the selection and appointment of judges, which contravenes the constitutional principle of independence of the judiciary.

– The Act amending the Law on the Common Courts Organisation – which changes the rules of appointing and recalling presidents of courts – increases the authority of the Minister of Justice by enabling the Minister to arbitrarily recall all the presidents of courts in Poland during their term of office.

– The draft Act on the Supreme Court foresees that all judges of the Supreme Court (save for those designated by the Minister of Justice) will retire immediately upon when the said Act enters into force.

The CCBE calls upon the President of the Republic of Poland to use the right of veto and to refuse to sign the above-mentioned amendments, as they are threatening the autonomy and independence of the judiciary.

Read the CCBE letter here.

The European Commission also discussed the latest developments with regard to the Polish judiciary and related legislative acts. In the Commission’s view “If implemented in their current form, these laws would have a very significant negative impact on the independence of the judiciary and would increase the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland.” On 19 July 2017, the College of Commissioners held a first in-depth discussion on these new developments, expressed its serious concerns, and looked into the legal and political options available to the Commission to act upon these concerns. The Commission will revert again to this matter next week. For more information, click here.