November 2012 – Bars of Croatia and Montenegro change their status within the CCBE
At its November Plenary Session, the CCBE approved an application from the Croatian Bar Association for full membership and an application from the Bar Association of Montenegro for associate membership due to changes of their status within the EU, i.e., Croatia will join the EU on 1 July 2013 and the EU opened accession negotiations with Montenegro on 29 June 2012. The Croatian Bar Association’s change of status within the CCBE will take effect as and when Croatia officially joins the European Union. The status of the Bar Association of Montenegro has been changed from an observer member to an associate member.
November 2012 – The CCBE participates in the International conference on South Caucasus in Paris
On 14 November 2012, Rupert D’Cruz, Chair of the PECO committee, participated in an international conference organised by the Paris Bar to appraise the difficulties faced by the legal profession in the South Caucasus to improve the structural independence of the judiciary and to guarantee its effective functioning.
Rupert D’Cruz commented that “the challenges facing the legal professions in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have some clear similarities:
He also noted that one of the most important concerns is “the fact that lawyers can find their personal freedom and safety under threat for acting in sensitive cases” (you can see the full text of his conclusions here).
Following this Conference, the Paris Bar issued Recommendations with the aim of assisting in the development and strengthening of the independence of the Bar and legal profession, and the effective functioning of the justice system as a whole, in the South Caucasus.
October 2012 - The CCBE sends letters of concern to the authorities of Croatia regarding fiscal cash registers
On 11 October 2012, the CCBE sent a letter to the Croatian authorities expressing its concern about the intention of the government to introduce fiscal cash registers for lawyers. The CCBE stressed the independence of the legal profession and its core values which lawyers are bound to safeguard, i.e., absence of conflicts, integrity and professional secrecy / confidentiality. The CCBE emphasized the reasons not to impose fiscal cash registers and possible impacts on lawyers’ profession that such imposition could have. The CCBE opposes the idea of introducing fiscal cash registers.
August 2012 – The CCBE sends letters of concern to the authorities of Slovenia
On 27 August 2012, the CCBE sent a letter to the Slovenian authorities to express its concerns about the intention of the Slovenian government to abolish mandatory membership in the Bar and to transfer certain competencies of the Bar to state or state-influenced authorities (see letter to the President of the Republic of Slovenia). The CCBE stressed the importance of mandatory membership as a pre-requisite of a self-regulated and properly independent Bar. It urged the Slovenian government not to consider abolishing mandatory Bar membership.
June 2012 – The CCBE meets with the Belarusian Bar Association in Minsk
On 29 June 2012, the CCBE Third Vice-President Maria Ślązak met with the President of the Belarusian Bar Association in Minsk. Other representatives of the Belarusian Bar also participated in the meeting. The aim of the meeting was to exchange information on the legal profession in Europe and in Belarus. Discussions were fruitful and covered a variety of topics (including training of lawyers, legal aid, professional indemnity insurance, free movement of lawyers in the European Union).
May 2012 – Council of Europe releases the Report “The Profession of Lawyer”
On 11 March 2011, a Council of Europe / European Union Joint Programme entitled "Enhancing judicial reform in the Eastern Partnership countries" was launched. It aimed to promote the implementation of European standards on independence, professionalism and efficiency of the judiciary in six beneficiary countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. This Project was designed to provide a multilateral forum for discussing the issues of concern and to formulate recommendations on the steps to be taken to meet relevant European standards. The project was funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe.
The result of this project is the Report “The Profession of Lawyer”, which was released by the Council of Europe in May 2012. It focuses on issues such as the role of Bar Associations, access to the profession of lawyer, initial and continuous training of lawyers, disciplinary liability of lawyers. The report also contains an overview of developments and main trends, main obstacles and recommendations for implementation of the European standards in the Eastern Partnership countries as regards the profession of lawyer.
January 2012 – CCBE participates in meeting between Georgian Ministry of Justice and Bar Association
On 30 January 2012 Rupert D’Cruz, Chair of the PECO committee, participated in a meeting between Georgian Bar Association (GBA) representatives and the Georgian Ministry of Justice. They discussed the situation of lawyers imprisoned in Georgia and other professional issues, such as training and deontology. Overall the meeting was positive. It was agreed to have regular meetings between the GBA and the Ministry of Justice.