On January 30, 2020, AEA-EAL President Maria Ślązak participated as an invited expert in a hearing organized by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoC) on the principles and guarantees of advocates. She delivered an oral intervention on legal instruments protecting the legal profession and their effectiveness in securing citizens’ rights to independent legal advice and defense. The invitation was a result of previous activities of the AEA-EAL, including the organization and co-organization of the conferences on the profession of a lawyer in Almaty and Tbilisi in 2018.
The hearing was organized in the framework of works on the European Convention on the Profession of a Lawyer in order to prepare an introductory memorandum of the Committee for the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoC) on possible improvements in the given area.
Maria Ślązak was talking about existing legal guarantees for lawyers, mainly the Recommendation Rec (2000)21 of the Committee of Ministers on freedom of exercise of the profession of a lawyer. She pointed out that the document is not legally binding for the Member States and its principles like independence, protection of confidential relations between a lawyer and his/ her client, or prohibition of sanctions, pressure, and threats against lawyers are often violated by some Member States.
AEA-EAL President noted that existing soft law such as Recommendation is not sufficient instrument to motivate authorities of Member States to respect lawyers’ rights which are absolutely necessary for proper delivery of legal assistance. The hard law is needed to assure citizens that legal support will be delivered in conditions giving full respect to authorities for rule of law in their countries.