Europe’s Lawyers demand that the Rule of Law be re-established in Romania

A letter of «strong condemnation» has been sent by the European Bars Federation to the Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta

The organisation representing European Lawyers has asked the Romanian Government to re-establish the Rule of Law: one of the fundamental founding principles of the European Union. The European Bars Federation, which groups together 250 Bars with more than 800,000 Lawyers, has sent a collective letter, in Romanian, to Prime Minister Victor Ponta to «unconditionally» condemn his country’s continued infringements of the fundamental principles of democracy, the Rule of Law and the separation of powers.

The President of the Federation, the German Professor and Doctor in Law, Lutz Simon justifies the request by virtue of the adoption by the Ponta Government of emergency decrees which drastically curtail the rights of Romania’s Constitutional Court and the «Peoples’ Lawyer».

As far as he is concerned, the revocation of the top magistrates in the country, declared persona non grata, is also in contravention of the Rule of Law in Europe. The situation is further aggravated by the Government’s summary dismissal of the country’s democratically elected President. Furthermore, the Presidents of the upper and lower Parliaments have also been removed, as well as the Regional Prefects and the heads of the State Television and other State owned companies.

Professor Lutz Simon is also President of the Frankfurt-am-Main Bar. Contact details for further question or comments: President of the European Bars Federation and President of the Frankfurt-am-Main Bar Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Lutz SIMON Tel: +49(0)69552037 Fax: +49(0)69551756 dr.simon@rano-prof-simon.de

FBE-Interview : Martin SCHULZ, President of the European Parliament

1. Quelles sont les raisons qui vous ont amené à prendre la fonction de Président du Parlement Européen?

Both because of my family experience and because of where I was born, I realised early in my life the necessity, the strength and the beauty of the European ideal. My interest in Europe was not motivated simply by the effort to avoid the replication of the fratricide history of the first half of the 20th century, I was also fascinated by the philosophy which sustained it throughout the centuries: from Dante to Kant, from Victor Hugo to Coudenhove-Kalergi.

Yet, I wanted to channel this interest in Europe into an active force. I felt that it was necessary to bridge the gap between the theory and practice in European integration and I thought that one of the best way of doing this was through European politics: there is not a better place for European politics than the European Parliament, where issues which concern all Europeans are actively and passionately debated.

To a large extent the reason for my bid to the Parliament Presidency was motivated by Willy Brandt’s famous dictum: “Wir wollen mehr Demokratie wagen” let’s dare more democracy. This is true not only at the national level, but even more so at the European one. A strengthened European democracy cannot but pass through a strong European Parliament. That is both my objective for the next two years and the reason for which I sought to become President.

2. Quelle est, à votre sens, le rôle que votre institution est amenée à jouer dans la société?

I think that the European Parliament has essentially one over-arching objective which is the consolidation of our common European identity which must be based on a set of values and practices to be debated openly and democratically. The European Parliament has the crucial role of translating into practical policies and legislations concepts such as: solidarity, anti-totalitarianism, human rights, equality, freedom and security. These debates have very practical implications whether we look at the distribution of funds in cohesion policy, the rescue programme for Greece or reversing the worrying signs which we witness in Hungary.

Moreover, I would like to single out three macro-areas which will according to me serve as battle-grounds in the actions of the European Parliament: making Europe fit for globalisation, reinforcing the rule of law within and outside Europe and fine-tuning the balance between freedom and security.

On the first point, a strong and cohesive EU makes the aggregate power of its Member States larger whether we are looking at negotiations with third parties on trade, environmental protection or foreign policy issues. This points to one of the fundametal rasion d’être of the European Union: making Europe fit for globalisation, but also making globalisation fit for Europe. Globalisation is not a panacea. It has brought opportunities, but also threats to many of our achievements from the environment to security. In this sense the EU provides a mutualisation of the risks which we incur in a globalised world, and at the same time aims to tame some of its worst excesses by persuading the rest of the world to compete in a level-playing field with us.

An example might be needed in this respect. Take a factory which does not respect any environmental standards, which can export to foreign markets which are open, but at the same time it is insulated by competition by protectionist laws in its own country. The same factory is also helped by the local authorities thanks to a loose competition policy, no labour protection, friendly state aid and a currency which is kept artificially low. Competition with a firm which externalises the costs and internalises the profits is difficult for law-abiding European industries. Our firms are not afraid of competition, they are rightly afraid of unfair competition. It is the role of the EU and of the EP to help rectifying these imbalances favouring world integration in an inclusive fashion.

This leads me to my second consideration on the rule of law. The European Union is a light administration: it relies on Member States to enforce its policies and legislation. It is a political project which has grown out of the smart idea of pulling together the management of resources in coal and steel. Yet to this day, the main trait-d’union which keeps the EU functioning is the rule of law, the European Union is first and foremost a legal Union relying both on the watchdog activity of the European Commission, but also on the mutually strengthening interaction between EU citizens, national courts and the European Court of Justice, acting on the basis of the treaties and secondary legislation

We should take stock of this success and state clear that our objective for our Union both at home and abroad is a fair, equal and binding application of the rule of law. The EU needs to continue to fight corruption, maladministration, delays and costs of justice so as to make sure that the EU is the best and most transparent place to live and make business in the world. This principle should also guide us in our external action as economic development without rule of law is both ephemeral and easily reversible.

The third macro-area which my institution has to confront everyday is the delicate fine-tuning between contrasting, and – to an extent – legitimate demands. The most pressing of these dichotomies is the one between individual liberty and security: we have experienced this when we voted on the SWIFT agreement, when we vote on the protection of passengers’ data, when we look at extradition demands or lately when we look at issues such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The issues touched here are often very technical, but they ultimately boil down to the burning issue of how high, or how low we want to set the bar.

3. Quel sera, à votre avis, le plus grand défi de votre institution dans les années à venir?

I have no doubt that the greatest challenge of the European Parliament in the years to come has all to do with increasing its standing both among the people and within the structure of the European Union.

I am very aware of all the arguments involved in the democratic deficit debate. I find most of them over-blown as the EU is not an unchecked leviathan, it is not a mammoth administration: it is subject to a continuous system of checks and balances and also the incessant scrutiny of informed stakeholders which have contrasting views on the subject and keep a close eye on the legislative process: from its conception until the final vote in Parliament.

Yet, as the EP discusses more and more crucial issues, vital to the very survival of the EU and its long term future, the EP has to further consolidate its standing as the cornerstone of democracy at the EU level – not just in the EU architecture, but also and most importantly in the eyes of the citizens. In this sense I foresee two main developments.

The first is the direct involvement in the European Council debates, in its preparatory work and also in its deliberations. This would not be simply in the interest of the EP, but also of the Heads of State and Governments who often take hugely important decisions, with little accountability neither at home nor at the EU level.

The second development is obviously a reversal in the tide of abstentionism and anti-Europeanism which partly marks European elections. I believe the best way of reversing this trend is by making the European elections more political and less national, increasing the link between European political parties and the formation of the President of the Commission.

Human rights action – BELARUS

Dear Friends,

This is the letter I have sent to the President of Belarus, expressing the great indignation of our Federation for the unacceptable condition of the Belarusian Colleagues engaged in the defense of Human Rights, often harassed and also disbarred for reasons alien to their professional activity.

At the same time, I have supported, on behalf of the FBE, an amicus brief in respect of a US case, as the sentencing of persons under 18 years of age without possibility of parole is prohibited by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

But these are only two steps, certainly very important and meaningful, of the great political and institutional action of the FBE, strongly engaged in the Human Rights’ defense.

A strong hug to you all.

Guido de Rossi

President of the FBE

Declaration of Wroclaw on death penalty

Death penalty

Declaration by the European Bars Federation (FBE)

The General Assembly of the FBE, celebrated on the occasion of its Intermediate Meeting in Wroclaw, on 24th September 2011,

DECLARED:

“The FBE reaffirms our opposition to the death penalty, expresses indignation and grave concern about the case of Troy Davis, who was executed in the USA State of Georgia on the 21st September 2011.”

FBE-Inteview : Jean-Paul COSTA, The President of the European Court of Human Rights

1. What reasons led you to accept the position of President of the European Court of Human Rights?

Jean-Paul COSTA : I have been a passionate defender and supporter of public freedoms and human rights all my life. This dates back to my law and political science studies and I must mention the influence of two outstanding teachers: Professor Jean Rivero and the State councillor Guy Braibant.

After studying at ENA, I chose the Council of State for my career, while enjoying a parallel teaching career, particularly in this domain.

Quite naturally I have therefore been considered a possible candidate for becoming a Judge at the European Court of Human Rights. In both 1998 and 2004, France placed me on the list of three candidates laid down under the European Convention of Human Rights, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe first elected me and then re-elected me.

Finally, when my predecessor left his positions at retirement age, I believed I could replace him (I was then Vice-President of the Court), and that these onerous responsibilities could at the same time be stimulating and significant. I was honoured that my colleagues on the bench elected me at the end of 2006, and re-elected me at the end of 2009.

2. In your opinion, what is the role that your institution plays in society?

Jean-Paul COSTA : The role of the European Court of Human Right is to make the 47 member States respect the extraordinary commitments they have undertaken in ratifying the Convention: on the one hand, to ensure that the people under their jurisdiction enjoy the rights and liberties laid down under the Convention, and on the other that the States accept the right of individuals to have recourse against them, the jurisdiction of the Court, and, if necessary, the obligation to conform to its judgements.

The role of the Court is in this way to harmonise the law of European States about freedom and fundamental rights (without aspiring to uniformity), while also making judgements about social conflicts, for instance the rights of the family in the widest sense of the word, the equilibrium between public order and liberty or finally the delicate relationship between different religions and the State.

3. In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge facing your institution in the years to come?

Jean-Paul COSTA : In my opinion, the three principal challenges facing the Court are as follows:

a) To manage to make sufficient decisions and judgements to avoid being overwhelmed by a great flood of applications, within the limited resources imposed by the economic crisis;

b) To sustain the importance of a State of Law and freedoms while forces hostile to liberalism and equality emerge from public opinion and amongst politicians in several States;

c) To remain imperturbable, impartial and independent while applications often reflect situations of conflict either within States or internationally and between States.

New members : l’Ordre des Avocats Fribourgeois

Le canton de Fribourg est l’un des 26 cantons suisses, situé à la frontière des langues française et allemande. Il s’agit d’un canton bilingue à majorité francophone d’environ 280’000 habitants. La capital de canton, Fribourg, possède une université bilingue dans laquelle la Faculté de droit est très importante, puisque comptant plus de 2’000 étudiants. Ces dernières décennies, le canton a connu un développement économique considérable, favorisé par une position centrale en Suisse et d’excellentes voies de communication.

L’Ordre des Avocats Fribourgeois comprend 150 membres, soit la quasi totalité des Avocats inscrits au Registre des Avocats du Canton de Fribourg. Traditionnellement, l’Ordre veille à l’indépendance du Barreau, au respect des règles déontologiques et à la formation de ses membres et de ses avocats-stagiaires. L’Ordre est également consulté par les Autorités lors de l’adoption de toutes législations en lien avec l’Administration de la Justice.

L’Assemblée générale de l’Ordre désigne un Conseil de l’Ordre, composé de sept membres ; le Conseil est désigné pour trois ans ; la fonction de Bâtonnier, actuellement Me Albert NUSSBAUMER, avocat à Fribourg, n’est pas renouvelable.

L’Ordre des Avocats Fribourgeois se réjouit de faire partie de la Fédération des Barreaux d’Europe.

New members : UNIONE TRIVENETA DEI CONSIGLI DEGLI ORDINI DEGLI AVVOCATI

L’Unione Triveneta dei Consigli dell’Ordine degli Avvocati nasce a Belluno nell’anno 1982 tra i Consigli dell’Ordine di Bassano del Grappa – Belluno – Bolzano – Gorizia – Padova – Pordenone – Rovereto – Rovigo – Tolmezzo – Trento – Treviso – Trieste – Udine – Venezia – Verona e Vicenza.

L’Unione ha sede in Venezia, Piazzale Roma – Fondamenta S. Chiara n° 494 ed i Consigli degli Ordini partecipano alle assemblee della Unione Triveneta rappresentati dal loro Presidente in carica. Fanno parte di diritto dell’Unione, con voto consultivo, i rappresentanti delle tre regioni presso il Consiglio Nazionale Forense, i rappresentanti regionali presso la Cassa Nazionale Previdenza e Assistenza Avvocati e i delegati regionali in carica dell’Organismo Unitario della Avvocatura Italiana, nonché i componenti dei Consigli Giudiziari dei Distretti del Triveneto nominati ai sensi della Legge 30.07.2007 n.111.

L’Unione Triveneta designa, mediante elezione a maggioranza, il Presidente e con eguale procedimento, tre Vice Presidenti, uno per ogni Distretto, nonché fino a due Segretari e il Tesoriere. Nel febbraio di quest’anno l’Ufficio di Presidenza è stato rinnovato interamente e, all’unanimità ,sono stati eletti i nuovi componenti: l’Avvocato Antonio Rosa, Presidente, gli Avvocati Franco Larentis, Andrea Pasqualin e Giancarlo Zannier, Vice Presidenti, Avvocato Alessandra Stella, Segretario, Avvocato Antonio Muggia, Tesoriere. Lo scorso ottobre, l’Avvocato Pasqualin, recentemente eletto Consigliere Nazionale Forense, ha rimesso la carica ed è stato eletto, all’unanimità in sua sostituzione, l’Avvocato Paolo De Girolami.

L’Unione Triveneta ha i compiti di interlocuzione con le rappresentanze nazionali dell’Avvocatura (CNF, OUA e CNPF) con le altre Unioni regionali o interregionali dei Consigli dell’Ordine degli Avvocati, con le Associazioni dell’Avvocatura Italiane e straniere, con le Regioni, con gli enti Locali e con le Università, e ancora con le rappresentanze degli Ordini delle altre professioni. L’Unione provvede alla consultazione fra i Consigli aderenti, adotta deliberazioni nelle materie di comune interesse al fine di assumere intese e decisioni che consentano e favoriscano unità di comportamento e di indirizzi tra tutti gli Ordini del Triveneto.

Ai fini del perseguimento degli scopi istituzionali l’Unione ha istituito le Commissioni di studio, designando a farne parte colleghi iscritti agli albi delle tre Regioni, organizza e concorrere ad organizzare congressi e/o convegni, corsi di preparazione e di aggiornamento, assumere iniziative di utilità anche economica e di interesse per gli iscritti, promuovere o partecipare ad attività culturali, scientifiche e centri di studi.

Il riconoscimento del ruolo centrale delle istituzioni forensi, attuato nei fatti attraverso l’affidamento alle stesse di sempre più pregnanti funzioni di rilevanza pubblicistica (l’esempio più recente è costituito dal ruolo privilegiato attribuito agli ordini in tema di amministrazione delle procedure di mediazione), si pone in sintonia con la nuova identità che esse vanno assumendo, in larga parte rappresentata dal perseguimento dell’interesse pubblico all’adeguato livello professionale ed etico degli avvocati, e le impegna severamente nella realizzazione della molteplicità degli obiettivi affidati alla loro cura.

Il ruolo dell’Unione si iscrive in questo orizzonte: rappresenta uno strumento efficiente di supporto agli Ordini, capace, in costante sintonia con i loro presidenti, di coadiuvarli nell’adempimento dei loro compiti, valorizzando e promuovendo efficaci economie di scala ed affiancandoli dell’elaborazione e nell’approfondimento delle tematiche di loro competenza.

L’impegno dell’Ufficio di Presidenza è volto ad approfondire i temi più attuali della giustizia e della professione, quali la riforma dell’ordinamento professionale, della mediazione e dell’informatica giudiziaria ponendosi come momento di confronto sulle problematiche ordinistiche comuni e di approfondimento delle stesse; e rafforzando il proprio ruolo di strumento di servizi, facendo valere le opportunità che possono nascere dal numero complessivo degli iscritti. Obiettivo primario è quello di assicurare, sul piano dell’elaborazione normativa, il costante monitoraggio dell’attività legislativa, anche attraverso l’informazione e la proposizione di possibili interventi emendativi, nonché offrire agli Ordini l’affiancamento nella costante opera di confronto con gli interlocutori istituzionali e politici, nella convinzione che l’assidua presenza dell’avvocatura – e così di quella triveneta – nei processi di produzione normativa rappresenti una condizione imprescindibile per l’equilibrato contemperamento degli interessi in gioco.

Accanto ai compiti descritti ed a quelli tradizionali l’Ufficio di Presidenza intende proporre agli Ordini iniziative di studio e di impegno su tematiche quali la preparazione del Congresso Nazionale del prossimo autunno, la predisposizione di mezzi e strumenti per la migliore e più proficua applicazione del nuovo istituto della mediazione, l’approfondimento delle tematiche implicate dall’entrata in vigore dell’azione di classe, la riflessione su un sistema di nuove giustizie che appare voler emarginare la figura ed il ruolo della difesa tecnica, il doveroso confronto con la sempre più incisiva presenza del diritto dell’Unione europea.

Ulteriori terreni di impegno concernono l’informatizzazione degli uffici giudiziari del Triveneto, anche con il coinvolgimento di altre realtà (Regioni, Provincie, ABI, Confindustria, Confartigianato, Camere di Commercio), l’organizzazione di momenti di confronto di problematiche e prassi, alle quali potrebbero partecipare ad esempio i giudici dell’esecuzione ed i giudici delegati alle procedure concorsuali dell’ambito triveneto, e la promozione di nuovi spazi professionali per gli avvocati, quali, oltre che la mediazione, l’assunzione di incarichi nelle procedure concorsuali, che attualmente risulta riservata in larghissima parte ai commercialisti e che invece, previa un’adeguata ed accreditante formazione specifica – nella cui organizzazione l’Ufficio di Presidenza intende impegnarsi –, può certamente essere appannaggio anche dell’avvocatura.

New members : Warsaw Regional Bar of Legal Advisors

Warsaw Regional Bar of Legal Advisors

One of 19 in Poland, the biggest Regional Bar of Legal Advisors (“OIRP”), gathering 6332 of legal advisors that running the training courses for 3849 registered trainees.

Territorial area of activity: Its range covers Warsaw and ex-capital voivodeship.

Tasks of the OIRP:
• representation of business interests of the members of the regional bar of legal advisors;
• organizing professional development courses / vocational advancement of legal advisors;
• supervision over the proper performance of professional duties by legal advisors and trainees;
• applying to the registering or record agencies with the motion to initiate proceeding to cross out of the register of record the subject leading the activity in the scope of legal advisory in contradiction to the regulations of the statute of legal advisors.

OIRP authorizations in Warsaw:
• adoption of the resolutions regarding the entry on the list of legal advisors, refusal of the entry on the list of legal advisors, suspension in performing professional duties or cross out of the legal advisors list lead by the OIRP in Warsaw;
• leading the trainings for young lawyers (registered trainees) to become legal advisor, carrying out the exam proceeding (in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice) and the legal advisor exam;
• supervision over the right performance of professional duties by legal advisors and trainees and performance complying with the statute of legal advisors of July 6th, 1982 and the Code of the Ethics of the Legal Advisor.

Who is a legal advisor? Legal advisor profession is a profession of the public trust. A legal advisor should exercise his profession with due diligence resulting from the knowledge of the law and the ethical principles binding all legal advisors in Poland. A legal advisor must be entered on the list of the regional bar, which is connected with passing through the three-year training and/or passing the professional exam.

Performance of the legal advisor profession: Performance of legal advisor profession consists of providing legal assistance, in particular legal advice, drafting legal opinions, bills, expressing opinions about the acts of law and appearing before courts and public authorities except of defense in criminal proceedings and proceedings in cases of fiscal, revenue offences. Legal assistance consists in particular in providing legal advice and consultations, giving legal opinions, and ensuring legal and court representation.

Legal advisor can perform his profession within the framework of an employment contract, on the basis of civil law agreement, in legal advisor’s office and civil partnership, registered/general partnership, professional or limited partnership.

Difference between legal advisor and advocate: The main difference between legal advisor and an advocate in Poland is the scope of cases, in which they can act as the attorneys. A legal advisor cannot act as a counsel for the defense in criminal proceedings and proceedings related to fiscal, revenue offences. Another difference is that legal advisor can be employed on the basis of employment relationship in a company but advocate can not. Advocate performs his profession on the basis of a civil law agreement, in an advocate’s office as well as in a private, general or limited partnership.

New members – The Consiglio Nazionale Forense

The Consiglio Nazionale Forense (National Bar Council or CNF) is the public institution representing lawyers in Italy.

Royal Legislative Decree No. 1578 of 27 November and Royal Decree No. 37 of 22 January 1934 establish the C.N.F. under Italian Law and define its structure and functions.

Pursuant to the applicable legislative provisions, the C.N.F. is based in Rome and has it seat by the Minister of Justice. It is formed by 26 members (one for each district of Court of Appeal).

The C.N.F. members are elected among the lawyers admitted to practice before the supreme jurisdictions in Italy. Their mandate lasts for three years and is renewable (the current mandate shall expire on 27 July 2010 but the current members will stay in office until the new concil is appointed).

The President, the two Vice-Presidents, the Secretary and the Treasurers are elected within the C.N.F. by its members.

A regulation governs the functioning of the C.N.F.. The following are its main competences: • Jurisdiction (appeal): the C.N.F. has the competence for reviewing the decisions adopted by local Bars on disciplinary matters, the keeping of the register of lawyer’ register and the local bar elections; • Keeping of the register of lawyers (Albo degli Avvocati) admitted to practice before the supreme jurisdictions; • Consultative function on draft laws and regulations having a direct or indirect impact on the legal profession.

The C.N.F. is also consulted on the dissolution of the local bars (Consigli degli Ordini), designates the members of the boards for the professional examination, approves and coordinates the programmes of the law schools and drafts, proposes and updates the professional fee-scheme.

The C.N.F is, at the same time, the body representing the legal profession and a public administration to whom the law confers jurisdictional and administrative powers.

In this historical moment, the C.N.F., similarly to other organisation in the European region, directs its efforts to ensuring that Italian lawyers meet the necessary levels of quality and respect high ethical standards

The C.N.F. is present in all the organisations representing lawyers at the international level (CCBE -UIA): it has representatives in Brussels, Paris and London and keeps contacts with the legal professions at the global level. Its representatives are active in all the most relevant legal committees in Italy and abroad.

The C.N.F. publishes a quarterly journal of legal culture and doctrine (Rassegna Forense) and, every two months, a review with news on the profession (Attualità Forensi). It also promotes other editorial initiatives such as the “Quaderni della Rassegna Forense”.

The current President of the Consiglio Nazionale Forense is Piero Guido Alpa.