FBE International Law Firm of the Future Competition 2019

The Wroclaw Bar Association and The Haague Bar Association are organizing the first FBE International “Law Firm of the Future” Competition from 15th January to 12 April 2019.

The Competition consists of two stages. During the first stage, the Participants shall submit their presentations concerning changes, innovations and/or proposals related to the development of new technologies in the legal services industry.

Any Participant can take part in the first stage of the Competition. Participation entails sending a PowerPoint presentation by 4 March 2019 together with an application form attached as appendix no. 1 to the following e-mail address: dyrektor@oirp.wroclaw.pl

By 20 March 2019, the Jury shall select a group of a maximum of 10 finalists (“Finalists”) who will take part in the second stage of the Competition. By 12 March 2019, the Jury shall inform the Participants, by means of electronic communication, of the outcome of the first stage by sending the information to the e-mail address provided by the Participants.

The second stage of the Competition will take place on 12 April 2019 (Friday) at the head office of the Wrocław Bar Association (Poland). During the second stage, the Finalists will present the subject to the Jury using the submitted presentation. The presentation time shall not exceed 15 minutes. The Jury may ask the Finalists questions regarding the presentation.

The purpose of the Competition is to promote and encourage innovative thinking of young students and lawyers at the start of their career in a time where traditional law practise is changing rapidly.

Furthermore, the purpose of the Competition is to promote the activities of FBE aiming at implementing new IT solutions among lawyers and to encourage the lawyers to use them in their daily practice.

Turkish cases before the ECtHR, “Day of the Endangered Lawyer” – BERLIN – POZNAŃ, 24th January 2019

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer on January 24, 2019 is a day on which we call for the attention for lawyers all over the world who are facing harassment, threats, persecution or even torture and therefore the work of those Colleagues is made increasingly difficult.

We could help our Colleagues in Turkey that day by demonstrating our support in front of Turkish Embassies all over Europe as well as taking part in many panels/discussions. One of panel was organized by Amnesty International and DAV in Berlin/Germany                                                       in Berlin Bar on January 24, 2019 under the tittle :”Turkish cases before the ECtHR”. 

On behalf of FBE Human Rights Commission and OIRP Poznan Human Rights Commission I celebrated that day with my German Colleagues-Lawyers, there. At 2.00 p.m. there was also a opportunity to take part in the peace demonstration in front of Turkish Embassy in Berlin.

 We should realize that since the state of emergency in Turkey was declared in 2016, basing on public datas, 1,500 Turkish lawyers have been prosecuted and around 600 arrested. Around 3,000 judges and prosecutors are said to have lost their posts. In addition to journalists and opposition politicians, the lawyers are in the sights.

Mr Stefan von Raumer (Human Rights Committee DAV Berlin) – a lawyer specialized in international human rights law, co-editor of an ECHR commentary led the mentioning panel,  I was part.

The panelist Mr Ümit Kılınç (human rights lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg) said at the meeting  that one could roughly make out three groups among the threatened lawyers. The danger attaches to the clients who are represented. Affected are clients from politically left circles (1), Kurdish clients (2) and followers of the Gülen movement (3).

He gave the lever for prosecution of lawyers in Turkey as Article 301 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes the public downsizing of the Turkish nation, state or government, as well as judicial bodies. He also stressed that there is little trust among the lawyers in Turkey in the justice system. The last hope is still the Turkish Constitutional Court, but also threatens to be ignored in important decisions by the courts of the courts simply (there was an open showdown in early 2018 because a criminal court had refused to release two journalists).

In his opinion as in many other, the ECtHR was a great hope for number of people, including lawyers in Turkey – but their confidence is dwindling. The ECtHR sees tens of thousands  of cases coming from Turkey and has so far regularly rejected complaints, and instead referred the complainants to the exhaustion of national remedies.

Mr Stefan von Raumer explained he believes that the rigorous handling of the Court eligibility requirement has led to a permanent overburdening of the Human Rights Court since 2011.  He also stressed that the ECtHR would only be prepared to break its stringent admissibility requirements if a complaint authority in a state exists only theoretically but not practically (for example, the ECtHR had accepted this for cases from Serbia, even though there was a complaint authority, but it did not apply to certain legal acts).

In the opinion of many, Turkey must restore the rule of law, release still-detained magistrates and journalists, and lawyers, restore the rights of teachers and magistrates ( judges and prosecutors) who have resigned from July 2016, restore freedom of press and information, end the state of emergency and fully implement the European Convention on Human Rights.

LET’S  STAY  TOGETHER !

 

Artur Wierzbicki

President of Human Rights Commission, FBE

President of Human Rights Commission, OIRP Poznan

“Democracy in the EU” 4th International colloquium – Brussels, 26-27 November 2018

The theme of the 2018 colloquium was “Democracy in the EU“.

The Opening Speech at the Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in Brussels/Belgium  was done by Mr  Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission.

In some words he presented the main subject as a fundamental right and the rule of law, one of three pillars which shall forever anchor the European Union. He wished the participants great discussions to highlight the role of political parties, civil society, organizations, platforms and other stakeholders in mobilizing citizens. I was one of them.

The Colloquium  aimed to reaffirm that Democracy is a central value common to the European Union and all its Member States, and  looked at how to renew democratic engagement within the European Union and the European societies. This debate was timely also in the context of the upcoming European elections and on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the Colloquium as well as at the panels and parallel sessions we all  worked together to identify avenues to foster free, open and healthy democratic participation in an era of growing low turnout in elections, populism, digitalisation and threats to civil society.

There were a variety of panels :

  • Resilient and inclusive democracy in Europe
  • A free and strong civil society for a vibrant democracy
  • Free and fair elections and an informed and pluralistic democratic debate.

Of course among participants there was also a great time to discuss one to one some of those topics.

I do recommend to everyone if it would be possible to take part in the next 2019 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights.

 

Artur Wierzbicki

President FBE Human Rights Commission

“Day of the Endangered Lawyer” – January 24, 2019 – TURKEY – FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Dear President, Dear Colleagues,

On January 24, 1977 four Spanish trade union lawyers and an employee in their office in Madrid were murdered by neo-fascists.

A few years ago, European lawyers associations chose this sad occasion to establish the “Day of the Endangered Lawyer”.

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer on January 24, 2019 is a day on which we call for the attention for lawyers all over the world who are facing harassment, threats, persecution or even torture and therefore the work of those Colleagues is made increasingly difficult.

Still nowadays Lawyers are more often assimilated to the clients they defend and thus are stigmatized, jailed, convicted.

At least 14 presidents of Turkish Bar associations have been arrested and detained.

Hundreds of lawyers in Turkey face criminal prosecution, are under judicial control and are forbidden to travel. 218 lawyers were sentenced in 2018 alone.

As a result, FBE, in conjunction with many lawyers’ organizations, fully supports our Turkish colleagues in the framework of the International Lawyer in danger day.

We’re sending a report from the FBE Human Right Commission about that issue.

Kindest regards.

 

Michele LUCHERINI

President of the European Bars Federation

Day of the Endangered Lawyer, 24th January 2019

Lawyers are more often assimilated to the clients they defend and thus are stigmatized, jailed, convicted.

At least 14 presidents of Turkish Bar associations have been arrested and detained.

Hundreds of lawyers in Turkey face criminal prosecution, are under judicial control and are forbidden to travel.

218 lawyers were sentenced in 2018 alone.

As a result, FBE, in conjunction with many lawyers’ organizations, fully supports our Turkish colleagues in the framework of the International Lawyer in danger day.

CCBE AI Conference – Lille, 30.11.18

Last month a long awaited event by all those interested in LegalTech took place at Lille University, France. Announced as one of the most important conferences devoted to technological advancement, the conference attracted great interest from lawyers all over Europe. As a  result, five hundred lawyers registered for the conference.

Bearing in mind the impact of new technology on the development of the legal profession and its significance for FBE Bar members Izabela Konopacka (chair of the New Technology Committee) has been instructed by the presidency to take part in the conference.

The conference took place on the last day of November and coincided with the introduction of the European Ethical Charter on the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems.

What is AI? What technological legal advancements are available on the market? How to use AI to increase the efficiency and quality of court proceedings? Who bears liability in the situation where AI has made a bad decision? How should  the legislator ensure the protection of Human Rights within the context of using automatic systems based on algorithms?

These were just a few of the many questions raised during the conference in Lille.

It goes without saying, that the future environment lawyers are to work in will be greatly affected by LegalTech. Therefore, the fact that some of us are resistant to technological development pales into insignificance in the face of our clients’ expectations. Clients who have become accustomed to  instantaneous access to information will determine the range of technological advancements lawyers will implement into their practices. As was already discussed during the conference, the era of increased competition among law firms means that those lacking in technological innovation may face difficulties in finding a place within the legal services market. Thus, local and national Bars are under a duty to provide LegalTech training to its members as the trend to “work smart” instead of “work hard” is going to continue in the coming  year – 2019.

Consequently, while the paperless court solution may be an everyday reality for lawyers from Austria and Germany, it is difficult for the majority of us to imagine such a court environment. Here the use of actual paper documents has been reduced to an absolute minimum or completly eliminated by electronic versions. 

However, the above situation where attorneys submit electronic documents  only and are served with electronic documents by courts via an electronic platform is seemingly acceptable in contrast to court judgments delivered by AI based systems.  (referred to as prescriptive justice). 

Such AI court solutions, already used by judges in the USA, raise many questions among legal practitioners. One significant  question asked by lawyers refers to how much access parties and their attorneys have to this solution. It is not hard to imagine the situation where a defective decision generated by AI  is approved and  handed down by the court which subsequently is appealed by one of the parties. In such a case it would seem obvious for the parties and their attorneys to have access to the AI system in the sense that the reasoning behind a decision is given by a human judge and is available. Whereas, an AI based decision is derived from programmed situations and algorithms. As has been pointed out, physical courts using AI as well as the AI system itself should be transparent and accessible to all concerned. It is of considerable importance that AI systems should be used in compliance with Human Rights.

Microsoft director Martin Slijkhuis has also presented other LegalTech options which could contribute to greater efficiency for both courts and public bodies as well as legal practices.

Some of the most interesting  soultions from a legal practitioner’s perspective were the following: 

  1. software used to anonymise electronic documents to remove any identifying information, which is still readable  by the lawyer and client, but  not for third parties. 
  2. software designed to read handwritten documents  and convert them into electronic and computer-typed documents.  
  3. A solution used to digitalise evidence e.g. where software selects the key issues for the case from video to reduce the evidence to a few minutes instead of a few hours when presented in court.
  4. Another highly innovative solution and very useful from a legal practitioners point of view is undoubtedly the CARA system based on AI (CARA AI). CARA  can not only verify any formal requirements for documents i.e. pleadings and assess whether all the relevant rulings for the case at issue have been presented, but can draft its own documents, for instance, a statement of claim, a defence or any other pleadings required.  CARA AI can analyse the legal arguments raised in the pleading as well as make a summary of all the key facts. It may also be used to identify any unfair contractual terms too. 

The above solutions aim at improving the efficiency of legal practices and eliminate  the routine and mundane . time-consuming tasks from its everyday work, which can be just as well performed by an AI system. Thus, an attorney is able to devote much more time to actual lawyering and building good relationships with their clients. 

In summary, it should be noted that the significance of an FBE presence through its representation at the AI Conference in Lille seems unquestionable since it may be in the coming year 2019 which could be revolutionary in terms of the implementation of LegalTech solutions.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – 10 December 2018

The Federation of European Bars (FBE) celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in Paris on this day in 1948.

The FBE is proud to defend human rights, access to justice and the rule of law. Our members are aware of the importance of these strong values when in so many parts of the world there is no equality before the law, access to justice is limited to those who have resources, human rights are violated and the rule of law is threatened.

The role of the member bars of the Federation is to support lawyers in defending these values is under threat and we stand together united in our support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and all those who defend human rights, access to justice and the rule of law.

18th CONFERENCE OF THE EUROPEAN LAWYER’S PROFESSION – Berlin, 8-9 November 2018

The meeting started with a walking dinner on Thursday night 8th November 2018.

The conference took place on Friday morning 9th November 2018 at the offices of the European Commission  Unter den Linden, Berlin.

The topic was the professional activity as a lawyer. Is it still a dream job for the next generation?

There were representatives from about 20, most European, countries.

The CCBE was represented by its second vice-president Margarete Gräfin Von GALEN and the FBE was represented by its general secretary Charles KAUFHOLD.

The keynote speaker Thomas KRÜMMEL presented the situation of lawyers in Germany. It was interesting to note that concerning the revenue there is a gender gap of 24 %. It was largely discussed what exactly caused this gap but no clear conclusion could be drawn.

Following the speaker, in Germany one lawyer comes on 500 inhabitants. This is a very low number compared to other countries, like for example Austria where the number of inhabitants is 1400 per one lawyer.

The participants of the conference also treated subjects like the digitalisation that takes place in many countries while other countries are still far from implementing it.

Digitalisation is making things quicker and, if well done, provides the lawyer, the clients and the judge with better information an easier access to justice.

A presentation of the last developments in European Law was given by Mr Nikolaus VON PETER representing the European Commission.

The discussion had to be interrupted as lunchtime occurred.

In the evening, the traditional Gala dinner took place.

Charles Kaufhold was joined by Monique Stengel, treasurer  and Artur Wierzbicki, head of the Human rights Commission of FBE.

The first speech was held by the special guest, Mrs. Prof. Dr. Juliane Kokott, General Prosecutor by the European Court of Justice with the topic “The European Court of Justice as constitutional Court?”. Table speeches were held about the actual situation of Justice by Mr. Dr. Behrendt, Senator for Justice in Berlin and about actual difficulties of the legal profession by Mr. Freyschmidt, President of the Berlin DAV and Mr. Schellenberger, President of the national DAV. Many European colleagues as well as guests from Korea were participating to this nice evening.