AIJA News

Leaders of international lawyers’ organisations remind of the importance of self-regulation and the independence of the legal profession

02 July 2019

Self-regulation and independence of legal professionals ensure the trust and protection of citizens, and provide guarantees for the rule of law.’

The message comes from the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), the Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE) and the International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) in response to the growing deregulation movement and immediate threats to lawyers’ independence. During their latest L5 meeting, they analysed the current status of the legal profession, particularly lawyers’ safety and independence and self-regulation as an essential safeguard of the rule of law. Together, they concluded that deregulation poses serious threats to public interest and democracy. Any reform leading to deregulation risks hampering the quality and integrity of the delivery of legal services and above all, citizens’ access to effective justice and legal protection.

The meeting was held in Barcelona in June and organised by AIJA. It also included contributions from two other members of the L5, namely the International Bar Association (IBA) and the American Bar Association (ABA).

 ‘“No Lawyer, No Justice”. The role of lawyers and the practice of law may be changing and adapting to the current times but deregulation and loss of independence are not the solution. Our citizens and our democracies need independent and self-regulated lawyers. Regulation should focus on fostering innovation and improving access to effective justice’, says Xavier Costa, AIJA President and Partner at Roca Junyent (Spain).

During the discussions, the leaders of the three international lawyers’ organisations also recognised the role of bar associations in steering the legal profession into the future and the importance of ensuring high professional standards in the delivery of legal services to citizens.

‘The capacity of lawyers to regulate themselves and remain independent is today at stake. The role of the bar associations will be to find new ways for lawyers to show their value and ensure that the public interest remains a priority’, adds José de Freitas, CCBE President and Partner at Cuatrecasas (Portugal).

‘Lawyers are advocates for citizens. And the purpose of regulation is to protect their fundamental and basic rights to effective justice. Without the right regulatory environment, the biggest impact would be on them and their trust in the legal services market’, concludes Issouf Baadhio, UIA President and Avocat à la Cour (Burkina Faso).

During the meeting, the three leaders also issued a common statement (in English, French and Spanish) to express their concerns about the sentencing and continuing arbitrary detention of several Iranian lawyers, including promiment Iranian and award-winning human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

About the L5

The so-called ‘L5’ is the annual meeting held by the leaders of the main international Associations of Lawyers and Bar Associations (in alphabetical order: ABA (American Bar Association), AIJA (International Association of Young Lawyers), CCBE (Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe), IBA (International Bar Association) and UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats). During the meeting the leaders update each other on the main developments on the legal profession and discuss how to best ensure and promote the rule of law.

For more information, download the full statement.