Tag Archives: European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer
The profession of lawyer plays a central role in the administration of justice, the defense of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Nowadays, lawyers, both individually and institutionally, are increasingly the target of attacks of all kinds which put in difficulty, even in danger, the independent and secure exercise of their profession.
In 2020, the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) has looked into possible actions to ensure an adequate level of protection to lawyers when exercising their profession. It considered the feasibility of a new European legal instrument, taking into account possible alternatives through which the protection for lawyers could be enhanced, considering the existing international instruments, notably the Committee of Ministers Recommendation R(2000)21 on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer and the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
On the basis of this study, the Committee of Ministers established as of January 2022 a Committee of experts on the protection of lawyers (CJ-AV). The CJ-AV consists of 15 representatives of member States, as well as participants and observers as set out in the adopted Terms of reference. The Committee is tasked with the elaboration of a legal instrument aimed at strengthening the protection of the profession of lawyer and the right to practice the profession without prejudice or restraint, under the authority of the Committee of Ministers and of the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ).
The CJ-AV meets 3 times a year, in closed session. Access to information about specific meetings and documents of the CJ-AV is available below, or depending on their classification, can be consulted in line with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
The CCBE has said that that attacks against the legal profession now take place in countries where a certain level of respect for the rule of law exists, including EU or Council of Europe member states.
In its end-of-year newsletter, body has reiterated its support Council of Europe work for the establishment of a new legal instrument on the profession of lawyer.
The CCBE has welcomed the recent decision of the Council of Europe to set up a new committee on the protection of lawyers to draft the new legal instrument.
The organisation believes that there is a clear need for adopting a new binding legal instrument on the profession of lawyer “accompanied by an implementation mechanism in order to guarantee the proper administration of justice and the respect of the rule of law”.
The goal of the legal instrument will be to strengthen the protection of the profession of lawyer and the right to practise the profession without prejudice or restraint.
The CCBE believes that none of the existing non-binding instruments cover comprehensively all the issues such as:
Memorandum of understanding between the Council of Europe and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe
The Council of Europe and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) signed a memorandum of understanding in Strasbourg today with a view to stepping up cooperation between the two bodies and making the Organisation’s activities more visible to Europe’s lawyers.
Lawyers play a key role in the equal administration of justice and the protection of the rights of individuals. In this context, they contribute to ensuring the public’s confidence in the action of tribunals, whose mission is fundamental for democracy and the rule of law. The European Convention on Human Rights protects and guarantees in this respect a number of essential rights which are related to the specific status of lawyers in the administration of justice.
The Council of Europe has long been committed to protecting this profession. The European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) recently prepared a feasibility study for a new European legal instrument for protecting the profession of lawyer.
The Council of Europe has longstanding links with bar associations, especially the CCBE (representing over a million lawyers in 45 countries) which makes substantial contributions to the work of the Organisation and cooperates with several organs, in particular the European Court of Human Rights.
The European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) of the Council of Europe publishes today its feasibility study on a new binding or non-binding, European legal instrument to protect the profession of lawyer.
This study examines the problems faced by lawyers in the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, the extent of these problems, the use made of the existing instruments in practice as well as the level of the protection and the manner in which this is currently offered to lawyers. It assesses the possible added-value and effectiveness of a possible future legal instrument in the field, the advantages and disadvantages or risks, according to the nature of such an instrument.
The CDCJ will continue working on these issues as part of its standard-setting activities, taking into account the elements of the study and in accordance with the decisions of the Committee of Ministers.
For years there has been an interesting debate in Europe about whether protections for lawyers’ rights should be strengthened. The Council of Europe (CoE), which covers 47 member states including the UK, is considering whether continuing attacks on lawyers call for a new legal instrument.
In other words, are the CoE’s 2000 recommendation ‘on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyers’, R(2000)21, together with the rights embedded in the European Convention on Human Rights, enough to ensure that lawyers do not suffer when carrying out their duties – and suffer they do, as explained below.
Now a new CoE report says that our rights need a new binding convention specifically focused on lawyers. The report is almost unfindable on the CoE website, and labours under the distinctly unappealing title of ‘Feasibility study on a new, binding or non-binding, European legal instrument on the profession of lawyer – possible added-value and effectiveness’.
Despite this obscurity, and the fact that it is written as a technical report for a technical committee and so not quite up to the excitement of an airport thriller, it turns out to be one of the most useful documents written about the European legal profession for a long time. And it is by an English barrister, Jeremy McBride.
It is useful for many reasons. First, it recites the violence and threats that lawyers face: murder and other assaults; being prevented from meeting clients; communications being monitored and homes and businesses searched; forcing lawyers to act as witnesses against clients; using admission or disciplinary procedures to exclude those whom the authorities consider politically undesirable; and creating bars which are not independent enough to protect members.
Each of these categories is documented with cases. And the report states that it is impossible exactly to quantify the problem, since there is no place in Europe or elsewhere which monitors the position of lawyers alone. Attacks on lawyers are monitored via other collective mandates, such as with human rights defenders or with judges.
December 11, 2018
The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been marked this week as a milestone document in the history of human rights.
Drafted by representatives with varied legal and cultural backgrounds, the declaration sets out a common framework for all signatories concerning human rights after the atrocities experienced during the Second World War.
The year 1948 was the first time in history that countries came together to protect fundamental human rights.
According to its preamble, the declaration recognises the “inherent dignity” and the “equal and inalienable rights” of humankind, stressing that “human rights should be protected by the rule of law”.
The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) said this week that adequate protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights – whether economic, social and cultural, or civil and political – requires that everyone has effective access to legal services provided by independent lawyers.The CCBE is working in support of threatened lawyers worldwide, and makes an annual human rights award each year.
The CCBE also regularly writes to national authorities when lawyers are victims of human-rights violations. This year, the CCBE has already sent more than 50 letters to 31 countries where lawyers have gone missing, have been assaulted, harassed or even murdered.
The CCBE also supports the work currently carried out by the Council of Europe on a proposed European convention on the profession of lawyer and welcomed the recommendation adopted in January by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), inviting the committee of ministers to draft such a convention.
The CCBE considers that such a binding instrument is needed in order to respond to attacks against the role of lawyers, which have grown over recent years.
Such a convention would strengthen the rule of law and, thereby, the protection of the profession of lawyer, whose mission is fundamental in the administration of justice and the safeguarding of fundamental rights.
Ukraine/Kazakhstan/Russia/Moldova: Defence for the defenders: Lawyers and attorneys under attack for participation in politically motivated cases
June 29, 2018
The right to defence is one of the fundamental human rights that is enshrined in a number of international agreements. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the principle of equality of all before the law, the presumption of innocence, and the right to be examined openly and with all the requirements of justice by an independent and impartial court.
In order to exercise their right to defence, prosecuted persons must have full access to legal services provided by independent lawyers and attorneys. According to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, everyone has the right to ask any lawyer for help in defending their rights and protecting them at all stages of criminal proceedings.
According to the opinion of the European Court of Human Rights, lawyers play a key role in maintaining public confidence in the judicial system and act as intermediaries between the public and courts. Thus, they are an important element of the rule of law.
As noted in paragraph 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions in an environment free from intimidation and improper interference. Also, lawyers shall not be prosecuted or sanctioned for any acts committed as part of their professional duties.
Unfortunately, in countries where democratic institutions are poorly developed and the rule of law does not work, lawyers and attorneys often become victims of persecution as well as various kinds of pressure and restrictions. This especially concerns those who participate in politically motivated cases.
Lawyers and attorneys are attacked both by state institutions and authorities and by various criminals, against which the state is unable to protect them. This prosecution also involves professional associations that proclaim their aim to protect the rights and interests of lawyers, but are not independent of state bodies.
At the moment, there are no effective mechanisms for monitoring the interference of the state and other entities in the activities of lawyers and attorneys. The solution could consist of adopting a special document that would protect lawyers and attorneys at the international level.
The statutory goals of the Open Dialog Foundation provide for the protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the post-Soviet space. This report examines cases of harassment and attacks on lawyers and attorneys in countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine,and Turkey. The latter is not a post-Soviet state, but it is a member of the Council of Europe and therefore has international obligations in the field of standards of law, democratic development, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.
June 19, 2018
The ICJ welcomes the proposal of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in its Recommendation 2121(2018) calling for the development of a Council of Europe Convention on the Profession of Lawyer.
The ICJ believes that such a Convention could make an important contribution to strengthening the rule of law and the protection of human rights in the Council of Europe region, building on existing Council of Europe standards and jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
The ICJ particularly welcomes PACE’s call for an effective control mechanism to be put in place under a new Convention, as recent developments in a number of Council of Europe Member States show a significant gap in implementation of Council of Europe standards on the independence and security of lawyers.
Lawyers, along with judges and prosecutors, are one of the pillars on which protection of the rule of law and human rights through the justice system rests.
Recognizing this, the ICJ, since its foundation in 1952, has worked to protect lawyers under threat and to develop international standards for the independence, role and integrity of the profession.
March 14, 2018
The statement of advocate Vahe Grigoryan about the problems of independence of the Armenian Bar made in the framework of the 09.03.2018 Conference on the Current Challenges and Opportunities of the Bars and Law Societies of the Council of Europe Member States
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to skip the issues relating to the organisational aspects of today’s event, including the strange role of the President of the Bar Chamber in them to save time and to focus on what is most important to us.
I will start by thanking the experts invited to this event by the co-organisers for their readiness to share their interesting and informative opinions with us.
Given the fact that this is the first event in Yerevan with the participation of the interested organisations, including the ‘opposition advocates’ (please note that this label was given to us by the President of the Chamber and not me or any other colleague of mine), I would like to draw the attention of the present to a number of problems the Armenian Bar faces today.
Around 30 advocates have already applied to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) expressing their conerns about a number of serious problems the Bar faces today and we look forward to hearing the positions of this and a number of other international bodies on solutions to these problems.
We are of the position that the President and the Board of the Armenian Bar Chamber have in fact transformed this professional self-regulated body into an instrument in the hands of the Armenian Government with a view to subjecting it to a type of oversight, which is contrary to the standards enshrined in our Constitution and the relevant national and international instruments for regulation of the legal profession.