Ukrainian National Bar Association: HEADING FOR DEVELOPMENT
“We have set the goal of combining the best of traditions of the ukrainian bar, its intellectual and managerial potential, and borrowing new practices from our foreign colleagues .”– Val en tynGv oz diy, ViceP resident of the ukrainian national Bar association
Bar self-regulation has been operating in ukraine since 2012. this is a completely new system of regional and national bodies for our country, with clearly defined powers and authorities that regulate the profession, which is responsible for maintaining high standards. At the same time, this is not a ukrainian, but an international practice, which in countries like germany has a history of more than 150 years. the development of this model was accelerated by the recommendations of the european Union and the pace, since these institutions considered the establishment of an independent, unified professional bar association in Ukraine to be one of the key component sofa democratic and rulebased state. We have the ukrainian national Bar association, which according to the law includes absolutely all advocates that have the right to practice law in ourcountry.
Obviously enough, we felt our first task was to realize the principle of the independence of the legal profession. We have the authority delegated by the state to create and to administer the Unified Register of Advocates. We have created the Unified Register of Advocates of Ukraine as an innovative UNBA project, adhering to all information security requirements, and now it`s publicly accessible. The URAU maintenance procedure is being constantly improved. Special filters were developed to find an advocate by his/her main and job addresses. In addition, we have technical capabilities that allow us to promptly respond to external changes and threats. For example, the Bar Council of Ukraine, as the URAU’S second level administrator, took over the functions of the first level administrator for the temporarily occupied regions and the annexed Crimea. When we encountered a large number of illegal searches and seizures of advocates’ property, we began to develop new functions for our website. Now we plan to make a more informative profile for each advocate.
It is only the UNBA, as a regulator of the profession, which conducts procedures for access to the profession and implements disciplinary procedures in relation to the advocates. Personnel rotations in the managerial staff of the bar take place through conferences and congresses of advocates of Ukraine. The current UNBA leadership has won the trust of their colleagues, and starting from Nov. 17 we will continue working for our second term. International partnership and
support Since its founding in 2012, the UNBA has successfully established a broad network of international relations with key partners, forming the agenda for the legal profession as such. This work is conducted by the Committee on International Relations.
At the committee’s initiative, we have already established 15 UNBA representative offices abroad, helping us to present the Ukrainian bar to foreigners, to study their foreign practices, to improve our own skills, to help Ukrainian citizens, and to work on the image of Ukraine. Recently, according to a decision of the Ukrainian government, a Ukrainian Institute was established to spread information about Ukraine throughout the world. Our representative offices aim to cooperate with similar institutions abroad.
The international activity of the Ukrainian bar is ensured in three main directions. The first one is cooperation with national regulators of the legal profession. The second one is cooperation with international organizations, bringing together representatives of the legal profession. And the third one is cooperation with the officials and authorities of other states. Membership of international
organizations In 2015, the UNBA became a member of the IBA (International Bar Association). The membership in this organization offers wide opportunities for Ukrainian advocates as related to the protection of advocates’ professional rights and guarantees, support from bar associations around the world, and gaining the best international experience in the legal profession. The UNBA became a member of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) in 2016. The CCBE is a recognized representative of the bar in relations with the EU institutions, Council of Europe and international organizations worldwide. Through its cooperation with the European Parliament and European Commission, the organization has influence on the development of legislation on the bar, criminal and corporate legislation; it provides information on changes in procedures for the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Shortly after joining this organization, the UNBA concluded with the CCBE a Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of the Continuing Professional Development of Advocates, with the bars 40 European countries. In 2015, the UNBA signed a Memorandum with the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) and a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Bar Association of Georgia. We have an understanding with the German Federal Bar Association to recognize the right of Ukrainian advocates to practice in Germany. The Law Society of England and Wales granted Ukrainian advocates with the right to take exams and practice as the solicitors. Revolutionary changes to the
Rules of advocates’ ethics The Reporting and Election Attorney`s Congress has approved amendments to the Rules of advocates’ ethics (Code of conduct). It was necessary to eliminate legal gaps related to the protection of the attorney – client privilege and their relations with colleagues, providing legal aid, in cases with clients that were distributed through the Legal Aid centers. The most revolutionary proposal for amendments to the Code of conduct is the introduction of separate chapter regulating the ethical rules for communications between advocates in social networks and on the Internet. New Code of conduct for Ukrainian advocates was adapted by the Attorney`s Congress on the basis of international practice, namely the standards of the International Bar Association (IBA). These draft amendments have since been approved by the Congress of advocates, and as of today the new rules have entered into force.
Bar and reforms The Bar is an active participant in judicial reform Although international standards provide for the mandatory inclusion of bar representatives into any and all discussion of changes in the relevant legislation, we do not always succeed in defending the voice of the legal profession in a rather complicated reform process. We have, on the one hand, successful examples, when we forced the introduction of the exclusive advocates’ right to represent clients in courts, and this already enshrined in the Ukrainian Constitution. The Ukrainian National Bar Association gave a positive expert assessment to the Constitutional Court regarding the said reform as an implementation of relevant European practices, ensuring the observance of the rights of citizens to judicial protection.
It is these productive efforts that strengthen our reputation in Europe as an effective professional organization with a rich history.
On the other hand, quite a lot of our efforts go into combating the unjustified state interference with the work of the bar, both at the level of legislation and at the level of the current activities of the law enforcement bodies. The bar believes that judicial reform is needed; we support the goals of strategic documents on judicial reform, but we will never agree to merely cosmetic change.
The Ukrainian bar, as an institution and a unified organization, consistently holds a transparent, independent, principled stand on the issues of the legal profession, human rights and freedoms, and, therefore, we will continue to defend these values from any infringements.
Valentyn Gvozdiy Vicepresidentoftheukrainiannationalbarassociation