June 28, 2017
Government moves to amend the regulatory framework of the legal profession in Kazakhstan may undermine its independence and are contrary to the principle of self-regulation of the profession, the ICJ said today.
The ICJ called on the authorities of Kazakhstan to refrain from interference in the governance of the independent legal profession and step back to allow the collegia of lawyers to continue to take responsibility for such matters.
The ICJ stressed that any proposals for reform put forward by the governing bodies of the profession should be developed in consultation with and enjoy the consent of the members of advokatura in accordance with international law and standards on the independence of lawyers.
The ICJ was responding to proposals put forward by the Justice Minister Marat Beketayev for reform of the legal profession in Kazakhstan.
In a statement to Parliament on 29 May 2017 (Report of the Minister of Justice on the issues of further development and reform of the institutes of notary and advokatura on 29 May 2017), the Minister outlined plans to:
- lower training and entrance fees to the profession “in order to simplify access to the profession”;
- broaden the powers of the Republican Collegium to regulate the disciplinary system for lawyers, in light of the Minister’s view that lawyers were avoiding disciplinary responsibility in many cases under the current system;
- require lawyers to undergo annual training followed by exams, which would be set not by the collegia themselves, but by universities or external training centres;
- require lawyers, in addition to the participation in state-funded legal aid scheme, to provide mandatory legal assistance without financial support from the Government, which the Minister described as “pro bono” service