About European Lawyers Day
In 2014, the CCBE introduced the idea of coordinating an annual Europe-wide event that would encourage its member bars and law societies to organise national and local activities based around a central theme to promote the rule of law, and a lawyer’s role in upholding its legal principles, to citizens. European Lawyers Day celebrates the common values of lawyers and their intrinsic role in the defence and promotion the rule of law, as well as their contribution to the justice system.
European Lawyers Day programmes and activities are organised by national and local bars, or any person or group working with a national or local bar (bar members, courts, law schools and students, youth groups, and community organisations) that would like to educate the public on the crucial role of the rule of law and the legal process in protecting citizens’ rights. Each member bar and law society is asked to encourage its members to organise events, publish educational material and/or conduct other programmes that promote citizens’ awareness of the European Lawyers Day theme.
European Lawyers Day 2016
For the 2016 edition of European Lawyers Day, the CCBE proposes the central theme of “Access to Justice”. Access to Justice is indeed a main concern of the legal profession, and is an essential part of its core mission. However, since one European voice is preferred, we suggest to concentrate on the subtopic of “access your lawyer to access your rights”, with a focus on access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings, guaranteed across EU Member States through Directive 2013/48.
The CCBE wishes to highlight that having access to a lawyer provides a person with access to all their rights. Lawyers are uniquely positioned to inform citizens and to give effect to their rights.
Previous European Lawyers Day
Avocats.be organised an open day for citizens at the Palais de Justice in Huy. They also organised a debate on the theme of Access to Justice touching upon issues such as the length and cost of legal proceedings, lawyers' fees, the organisation of the profession, the 'lawyer-client' relationship, the legibility and understanding of legal acts and court decisions for citizens, reforms which undermine access to the court, the backlog of cases, ADR, etc.
The Czech Bar Association organised a photography exhibition focusing on human rights (photos taken by photographer Jan Šibík – see www.sibik.cz). The exhibition took place in the newly rebuilt gallery space on the ground floor of the Kaňka´s Palace in Prague, the main seat of the Czech Bar Association. In addition, an article was published in the Czech Bar Association monthly journal “Bulletin advokacie” (Bulletin of the Legal Profession) on the theme of Access to justice.
On 10th December, the Finnish Bar Association announced its initiative to financially support Finnish human rights cases that in their estimation should be taken to the European Court of Human Rights or other international human rights forums.
The Athens Bar organised an event at the hall of the Athens Bar Association on the theme of: “The access to justice. The right to access a lawyer”.
The Hungarian Bar Association published on their website (available to all Hungarian lawyers) a detailed article about the celebration of ELD 2016.
The Law Society of Ireland organised a screening of a documentary relating to access to justice for trainee solicitors (students). The objective was to get young solicitors interested in European issues and to become familiar with the role and work of the CCBE.
In addition, the Irish Delegation (Law Society and Bar jointly) organised a presentation of the European Lawyers in Lesvos project as a good example of access to justice (and linked to refugee rights).
On 3rd December, the Advocates of Lithuania marched through the Central Avenue of Vilnius.
National Romanian Lawyers Association (UNBR) celebrated European Lawyers Day on the 9th December 2016 by organising a discussion on “Access to Justice”. The debate was presented from the point of view of both representatives of the citizens’ legal rights field and the lawyers.
The Bar Council announced an essay competition on the ELD theme for law faculty students and trainee lawyers to encourage young lawyers to express their views and to promote ELD at universities and amongst its members. The winner was invited to the Winter Seminar of lawyers, awarded 300 euro, and had her essay published in the December issue of the Bar Bulletin along with an article on ELD.
To celebrate European Lawyers Day, the Humanitarian Fund of the Slovenian Bar organised the annual distribution of funds and the hand-over of financial assistance to people in need.
The Polish Bar Council celebrated European Lawyers Day on the 9th of December through lectures and workshops by lawyers in local secondary schools. Lawyers from local bars spoke to students about the legal profession and its core mission. Their focus was on access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings. Dozens of schools in Poland were involved in the celebration of European Lawyers Day.
The Law Society of England and Wales incorporated European Lawyers Day into their seminar on “Lawyers and human rights defenders at risk”.
The Law Society of Northern Ireland organised an event on Friday 9th December with the theme of Access to Justice at which Her Honour Elizabeth McCaffrey and Michael Robinson (Head of the UK Delegation to the CCBE) spoke.
Freedom of Speech
European Lawyers Day on the theme of Freedom of Speech took place throughout Europe on 10 December 2015, in conjunction with World Human Rights Day.
The theme was Freedom of Speech, and referred to all forms of expression. It was particularly important at a time of clashing liberties – the most obvious in this year of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris being between freedom of speech and the right not to be insulted or discriminated against. This is also always relevant with regards to lawyers’ own freedom of speech, for instance in speaking about cases in which they are involved, or in being involved generally in civil society.
- European Lawyers Day Poster
- European Lawyers Day Handbook
- La liberté d'expression de l'avocat: un combat de tous les instants - article de Olivier Morice
- Interview with CCBE President Maria Ślązak
- Newsletter - Special Edition
- Highlights of some of the events that celebrated European Lawyers Day
European Lawyers Day on 10 December 2014 celebrated the common values of lawyers and their role in civil society in promoting the rule of law.
Of all of the basic human rights that have been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to privacy and protection of personal information is the one most generally under threat through mass governmental surveillance, as revealed over 2013 and 2014.
When rights are violated, citizens’ faith in the administration of justice and the rule of law weakens. As lawyers, it is our role in society to uphold and defend the rule of law for citizens. Lawyer-client confidentiality and the protection of client data are key components of this role. Without trust and confidentiality, access to justice and the rule of law cannot be guaranteed.
European Lawyers Day 2014 proved to be a successful endeavour supported by 17 participating members. The CCBE Presidency participated in events in Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, and Paris, while the CCBE team coordinated a Twitter dialogue on the topic, in which numerous CCBE members and concerned citizens participated using the hashtag #clientdata.