The Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) addressed the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding the Draft Law № 7025 «On Self-Regulatory Organizations» (the Draft Law), the final and transitional provisions of which provide for significant amendments to the Law of Ukraine «On the Bar and Practice of Law».
According to the UBA, some of the proposed changes do not comply with the rule of law principle and the functions and tasks of the legal profession in democratic societies. Thus, the Draft Law provides for significant restrictions of democracy principles in advocates self-governance bodies, creates opportunities for strengthening the vertical of power, which is foreign to private legal professions, and may lead to loss of trust in advocates self-governance by advocates and society as a whole.
According to the UBA, the following provisions of the Draft Law are disputable:
1. Abolition of restrictions on holding positions in bar self-government bodies for not more than two consecutive terms.
2. Appointment (approval) and dismissal of the heads of committees, their deputies and members of the councils of committees (sections) by the President of the National Bar Association of Ukraine.
3. Significant changes to Article 17 of the Law «On the Bar and Practice of Law» on administration of the Unified Register of Advocates of Ukraine (URAU).
4. Change to the status of the Higher School of Advocacy of the Ukrainian National Bar Association leading to its monopoly in the field of professional education of lawyers.
5. Proposals for formalization and introduction of new payments and fees which are not provided by the current legislation.
6. Entrusting the Council of Advocates of Ukraine with an exclusive power to distribute funds of bar self-government bodies.
The UBA calls on the Verkhovna Rada to:
1. Amend the Draft Law and provide that its effect does not extend onto public relations in the areas of the bar, prosecution and judicial self-government.
2. Completely remove from the transitional provisions of the Draft Law amendments to the current Law «On the Bar and Practice of Law».
3. Conduct a broad discussion on the improvement of the Law «On the Bar and Practice of Law» with the involvement of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, international experts, civil society, representatives of relevant NGOs and research institutions, and draft the relevant legislative amendments only as a result of such a discussion.
The full text of the UBA’s letter can be found at the link.