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 2021
The independence of lawyers and bars is an essential element for the legal profession to carry out its mission to properly defend citizens, including in their actions against the State, to build trust between lawyers and their clients, to preserve the rule of law and to fulfil the important and irreplaceable role to prevent the abuse of powers. The theme of European Lawyers’ Day 2021 "No justice without independent lawyers" will highlight the importance of ensuring and preserving this independence for the benefit of citizens’ rights. It will be an opportunity to shed light on the attacks on lawyers which are often related to identification with their clients or client’s causes. It will be also a good momentum to reiterate the need for a binding European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer in order to preserve the independence, integrity of the administration of justice and the rule of law. An online roundtable dedicated to this particular topic will be organised by the CCBE with the participation of Council of Europe representatives as well as representatives of other lawyers’ organisations.
Previous European Lawyers Day
Continuity of justice and respect of human rights in times of pandemic
Organisation of a conference by the French-speaking Bar Association of Brussels on 23 October with the participation as a speaker of Ms. Françoise Tulkens, former Judge and Vice-President of the Euro-pean Court of Human Rights and Professor Extraordinary Emeritus at the Catholic University of Louvain. The proceedings of the conference will be available in January 2021 and will be edited by Anthémis and the Brussels Bar.
Organisation of a round table by Croatian Bar Association (CBA) with the participation of a high-profile representatives of the judiciary, the executive and the legislative power of the Republic of Croatia. The roundtable was opened by the CBA President Josip Šurjak and followed by the president of the Supreme Court Đuro Sessa. Other participants and speakers of the round table: the CBA Vice-President and round table moderator, Mladen Klasić, the CBA Management Board member, Berislav Živković, and Commercial Court judge, Iva Karin Šipek, delivered their speeches on the different aspects of the digitalisation of justice, online hearings in the area of criminal and civil, which gave rise to a lively discussion among all the participants of the round table.
- Translation and publication of the articles from the CCBE Committee Chairs Thierry Wickers and Iain Mitchell on the online Information Portal Advokatni denik: https://advokatnidenik.cz/2020/10/23/evropsky-den-advokatu-2020-se-zameril-na-lidska-prava-v-dobe-pandemie/
- Launch of the exhibition on “Lawyers Against Totalitarianism”: https://www.advokatiprotitotalite.cz/
The National Bar of Attorneys-at-Law
Several actions were undertaken by the National Bar of Attorneys-at-Law in Poland as well as regional bar associations of attorneys-at-law in Poland.
The main events were the following:
- Launch of the online Film Discussion: “Philadelphia” (1993, Jonathan Demme). The selection of the film was dictated by the topic of the European Lawyers Day 2020 as “Philadelphia” is a court drama that refers to another pandemic – AIDS. It shows the way the fear of the disease influences stereo-types and prejudices, pictures the difficult struggle to overcome the biases and highlights that the justice should take side of the vulnerable ones. Even though it has been almost 30 years since the release of “Philadelphia”, the issues the film raises are still relevant nowadays. After the online discus-sion, “Philadelphia” was made available to the participants through the online film platform.
- Organisation of a final online event with the participation of Mrs Joanna Wisła-Płonka, Chair of the International Affairs Committee of the National Bar Council of Attorneys-at-Law, and the guest of hon-our, Mrs Francesca Sorbi. The discussed topic: “The continuity of justice and respect of human rights in times of pandemic”, especially from the perspective of Italian experiences.
The Polish Bar Council
Publication by the Polish Bar Council of information on EDL into their website: https://www.adwokatura.pl/ogolnoprawne/europejski-dzien-prawnika-25-pazdziernika-2020-roku/
Publication of an article from former CCBE President, José de Freitas, available here: http://boletim.oa.pt/project/setembro-2020-cultura-60-aniversario-do-ccbe/
Organisation of a videoconference by the National Association of the Romanian Bars (UNBR) on October 22 with the participation of the Honorary President of the UNBR, the Head of the CCBE Romanian delegation, Calin Andrei Zamfirescu, and the Minister of Justice. The entire videoconference is availa-ble here: https://youtu.be/kDuWapJANdI
Your right to legal aid in criminal matters & A focus on access to a lawyer when detained in prison
Organisation of two events by the Belgian French and German-speaking Bar Association (AVOCATS.BE) which made it possible to identify the current issues surrounding access to lawyers, both at Belgian and European level:
- A conference entitled "Prisons: what are the prospects for strengthening procedural rights? " with the participation of the Spanish Bars. A panel of speakers from various professions delivered a quality conference, at the forefront of current events in their respective fields. They discussed the conditions for establishing a possible intervention of EU law in the prison field and the prospects that such an innovation would open regarding the effectiveness of the fundamental rights of detained persons.
- A workshop was organised in collaboration with the Liege Bar Association. The event gathered various professions: lawyers, judges, prosecutors, university professors, social workers, prison directors, educators, police superintendents, criminologists, ...
The participants were divided into discussion tables, each devoted to a specific place of detention, discussed the possibilities of facilitating access of detained persons to their lawyers in each place of detention. The members of each group shared their respective experiences and identified the issues and difficulties encountered by each person in the exercise of their profession in the place of detention. Each group then identified solutions to the issues and difficulties identified before sharing the results of their work with the other.
Organisation of a roundtable by the Croatian Bar Association (CBA) with participation of the CBA president Josip Šurjak and the Croatian minister of justice Dražen Bošnjaković.
Information published in the lawyers newsletter available here: https://www.cak.cz/assets/komora/bulettin-advokacie/ba_10_2019_web.pdf (page 71), in the Czech Bar Association website – Advokátní deník: https://advokatnidenik.cz/2019/10/25/pravo-na-pristup-osob-ve-vazbe-k-obhajci-tema-evropskeho-dne-advokatu-2019/ and organisation by the Czech Bar Association of a conference and exhibition in Prague entitled „Lawyers against Totalitarianism“ dedicated to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the “Velvet revolution“.
Conference organised by the Budapest Bar for the defence assigned counsel on the occasion of the European Lawyers Day at Budapest Bar’s premises.
(© Panpress Hungary)
The Law Society of Ireland published a video available here.
Conference organised by the Consiglio Nazionale Forense to celebrate the European Day of Justice and European Lawyers’ Day. More information available in Italian here: https://www.consiglionazionaleforense.it/web/cnf-calendario/-/648492
The programme is available here.
Organisation of a meeting with journalists by The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland, the Polish Bar Council and the Warsaw Bar Association and presentation of a set of recommendations regarding access to a lawyer, the implementation of which will ensure effective adaptation of national regulations to European standards.
The presented regulations include, among others, ensuring the possibility of contacting a lawyer before the first hearing or immediately after being arrested, creating a system of on-call duty hours for lawyers or ensuring confidentiality of client contact with a lawyer. http://www.adwokatura.pl/z-zycia-nra/prawo-zatrzymanego-do-obroncy-tematem-europejskiego-dnia-prawnika/
Organisation of a debate by the National Union of Romanian Bars.
The conclusions are available here
Organisation of study visits for trainee lawyers to Slovak prisons in different regions of Slovakia.
The trainee lawyers were accompanied by experienced defence lawyers who explain practical details of access to lawyer and fundamental quaranties.
Presentation of the European legislation on the right to legal aid in criminal matters - with a special focus on Directives 2013/48/EU and 2016/1919/EU for the regional (Ljubljana) Chapter of Attorneys and organisation of a lecture at the Ljubljana University’s Law College.
- Launch of the HELP course on procedural guarantees in criminal proceedings and victims' rights on 27/9 in Marbella: https://www.abogacia.es/2019/10/01/lanzamiento-del-curso-help-sobre-garantias-procesales-penales-y-derechos-de-las-victimas-y-reunion-del-comite-de-derecho-penal-de-ccbe-en-marbella/
- Participation in the conference on the procedural rights of detainees in collaboration with Avocats.be and the CNB (see Belgium)
- Celebration of the Days of Penitentiary Law, including a conference on "The enforcement of decisions on deprivation of liberty and Law 23/2014 of 20 November on the mutual recognition of EU criminal decisions. Transmission of sentences handed down in Spain to another EU country": https://jornadaspenitenciario.abogacia.es/programa1
Production of a European Lawyers Day podcast on criminal legal aid by the Law Society of England and Wales with contribution from Law Society of Scotland and Law Society of Northern Ireland.
The podcast is available here: https://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/international/european-lawyers-day-2019-legal-aid-in-criminal-matters/6000471.article
Why Lawyers matter: Defending the defenders of the Rule of Law
The 2018 edition of European Lawyers Day (ELD) took place on 25th October, the same day as the European Day of Justice. This year’s theme is: “Why Lawyers matter: Defending the defenders of the Rule of Law”.
Why do lawyers matter? Lawyers defend citizens’ rights and interests, often acting against authorities and unlawful situations. The CCBE stresses their crucial role in promoting the rule of law. During European Lawyers Day, Bars and Law Societies organise activities (conferences, panel discussions, and debates, among other activities) and draft publications about the theme.
What is European Lawyers Day? Why do lawyers matter? Watch the interview to find out!
In this interview, Antonín Mokrý, the President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), talks about the 2018 European Lawyers Day. In the interview, the President also highlights the work of the Council of Europe concerning the profession of the lawyer and explains how lawyers are essential actors in the justice system.
Interviewee: Antonín Mokrý, CCBE President.
Interviewer – voice credits: Paula Garrido, CCBE Communications Officer.
How digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer
The 2017 edition of European Lawyers Day (ELD) took place on October 25th. European Lawyers Day is a day that celebrates the rule of law and the legal profession’s intrinsic role in its defence, as well as lawyers’ common values and contribution to the justice system. The theme for this year was: “E-volving lawyers: how digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer”.
The event aimed at familiarising citizens with the new technologies available to the legal profession, and their positive impact on the evolving relationship between lawyers and citizens. Each bar and law society was encouraged to organise events in their national countries to ensure that ELD gains the widest reach possible.
BarEuregio.eu, in collaboration with the Ordre des Barreaux francophones et germanophones, Avocats.be, invited lawyers, citizens and companies to participate in this year’s ELD with a conference on the theme of legal « e-volving laywers: towards more justice? » at the Spa-Francorcham
Pierre Henry (President of the Verviers Bar) made the opening remarks, while the general introduction was given by Melchior Wathelet Junior (President of the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit). The first panel on “Les technologies dans le monde du droit: évolutions et perspectives” was composed by David Fredrich (LegalTech Solutions: Consulting, Conception & Development – Larcier) and Dan Kohn (Head of Key Accounts and Networks – SECIB). The second panel on “La cour de justice: l’utilisation du numérique; protection de la vie privée et des données” was composed by Melchior Wathelet Senior (First Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union) and Eric Balate (lawyer at the Mons Bar, administrateur of Avocats.be and lecturer at UMons). Finally, the third panel on “Algorithmes et collusion dans une économie de marché” was composed by Nicolas Petit (Law Faculty, ULg Co-Director, Brussels School of Competition; EDHEC Business School, France). The forum was moderated by Gilles Quoistiaux, journalist from Trends-Tendances.
On European Lawyers´ Day (ELD) and this year´s topic, “E-Volving Lawyers – How digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer”, the Czech Bar Association presented the work of Antonín Mokrý, the CCBE’s first Vice-President: “Will machines replace a human in dispute resolution?” (in or
The CCBE poster, together with an article on the provision of legal services through electronic platforms (link), is being published in the Bulletin, Journal of the Czech Bar Association which is distributed to all lawyers and trainee lawyers.
Moreover, an informative article about the ELD, (in original language): with links to the CCBE European Lawyers´ Day website, was published on 25 October 2017 in the On-line version of Bulletin, as well as on the website and on the Twitter account of the Czech Bar Association.
The Bar also covered ELD on social media.
The Croatian Bar celebrated European Lawyers’ Day on 25 October 2017 with a conference on “The Impact of Technology on the Legal Profession” at the Croatian Bar premises in Zagreb. In his opening speech, Bar President Robert Travaš said technology should facilitate the work of lawyers but could not replace personal contact between a lawyer and their client. Lawyers Lovro Kovačić and Tonči Ravlić talked about technology aspects which are already part of lawyers’ everyday life.
At the “DAV-Forum: digital civil procedure” on 8 November 2017 in Berlin, the DAV discussed how an efficient digital civil procedure should function. The aim of this event was to give the legislator recommendations for the improvement of the current rules so that both the lawyer and the client benefit from the digitalisation of the profession.
The Greek Bar Association organised an event on the ELD theme: “E-volving lawyers: how digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer”.
Speakers included: Vassilis Alexandris, President of the Athens Bar Association and of the Plenary of all Greek Bars; Panagiotis Lymperopoulos, Appellate Judge, Vice President of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors; Ioanna Kalantzakou, Vice President of the Athens Bar Association; Nikolas Kanellopoulos, General Secretary of OPEMED, Vice President of the Union of Greek Law Firms; Alkistis Christofilou, lawyer LL.M, LSE; Panagiotis Perakis, member of the Board of the Athens Bar Association and Chairman of the Access to Justice Committee of the CCBE.
On the occasion of the ELD the Polish National Bar of Attorneys at Law encouraged the Regional Chambers of Attorneys at Law to organise school lessons for children. The meetings aimed at promoting knowledge about the law, as well as to focus on the topic of the Day – E-volving lawyers: how digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer. The lessons were conducted pro bono by Polish attorneys at law.
European Lawyers Day in Poland was also marked with the organisation - by Committee for Professional Development of the Polish National Council of Attorneys at Law - of the conference in Warsaw entitled “A modern law firm – development and challenges”. Among the speakers was Mr. Jaap Bosman – international business consultant for law firms from TGO Consulting.
The Portuguese Bar Association hosted a roundtable amongst Portuguese specialists, IT providers, and lawyers with special guest Thierry Wickers, who held a lecture on the impact of technology on the legal profession.
The Slovak Bar Association organised an essay competition for students related to the ELD theme: “Future and Technology – E-volution of Lawyers”. The winner was chosen by a three-member panel formed by one representative of the Bar Council, a member of IT working group and the CCBE Information Officer. The winner - Tomáš Dilong, a bachelors student from Trnava University - was awarded 300 EUR on 16 November. The aim of the competition was to encourage future lawyers to express their views and to promote ELD at universities. This year, the Slovak Bar Association cooperated for the first time with ELSA Slovakia. The essay is to be published in the November issue of the Bar Bulletin along with the article on ELD.
On 25 October, the Bar Association of Slovenia, in cooperation with the Bar’s Law Academy and the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, organised a debate on the topic "Ethical aspects of the use of new technologies in the field of law and protection of citizens" with the participation of four representatives of the Bar Association of Slovenia (Roman Završek, LL.B., President, Živa Drol Novak, Chair of the Ethics Committee, Janez Stušek and Alenka Košorok Humar, Director of the Bar’s Law Academy). The event was intended for law students and the general public.
Earlier, the Bar Association of Slovenia organised, in cooperation with the Bar’s Law Academy and the Ljubljana Regional unit of the Bar Association, a public lecture on the "Due diligence of lawyers in e-commerce". The lecturer was a member of the Bar Association of Slovenia, Janez Stušek.
The Spanish Bar Association held a roundtable with its President, Victoria Ortega Benito, and IT lawyers. A press release (in original language) followed the event, mentioning ELD, as well as the national and regional Bars’ initiatives and best practices.
The Bar also covered ELD on social media.
European Lawyers Day 2017 was acknowledged on the website of the Swedish Bar Association and on other social media, with information on the theme of the year, as well as the importance of the legal profession for democracy, rule of law and human rights.
- ENGLAND AND WALES
The Law Society of England and Wales held a seminar titled “The impact of technology on the legal profession” with the contribution from Lord Briggs (Supreme Court Judge and Judge in charge of the Chancery Modernisation Review in 2013) and Peter Wright (Founder and Managing Partner of Digital Law UK).
- NORTHERN IRELAND
The Law Society of Northern Ireland, organised a conference which provided an opportunity to mark ELD by highlighting the legal profession’s significant contribution to the rule of law and justice system throughout Europe.
Over 50 solicitors attended the conference and had the opportunity to hear from a number of key note speakers, including Ian Huddleston, the President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, and Stephen Beattie and Andrew Bennett from Allen & Overy LLP.
The Bar also covered ELD on social media.
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.
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.