Bar associations: report
5 September 2018
The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
To the General Assembly at its 73rd session
The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers devoted his second report to the General Assembly to the essential role that bar associations play in a democratic society to enable the free and independent exercise of the legal profession and to ensure access to justice and the protection of human rights, in particular due process and fair trial guarantees. On 17 October 2018, the Special Rapporteur presented his report to the General Assembly.
Statement of the Special Rapporteur at the 73rd session: English | Spanish
Bar associations play a vital role in the organization and safeguarding of the independence and integrity of the legal profession and its members. The underlying rationale for their creation is the need to provide a platform to allow the legal profession to carry out its legitimate activities without any external interference.
Bar associations should meet, at a minimum, the following requirements:
(b) a self-governing nature;
(c) a general mandate to protect the independence of the legal profession and the interests of its members; and
(d) recognition under law.
Bar associations have a crucial role to play in a democratic society to enable the free and independent exercise of the legal profession and to ensure access to justice and the protection of human rights, in particular due process and fair trial guarantees. They protect individual members of the legal profession, particularly in situations where they are not able to adequately defend themselves; elaborate and implement requirements and procedures to gain access to the legal profession; develop codes of professional conduct; and handle disciplinary proceedings against lawyers.
Professional associations of lawyers also cooperate with State institutions in providing legal aid services to poor and disadvantaged persons and legal education and training to lawyers throughout their careers.
The report analyses various forms of interference with associations’ independence, ranging from legal or administrative obstacles to prevent lawyers from establishing or joining independent professional organizations, to different forms of control by the executive or judicial branch on the entry into or continued practice within the legal profession, and threats of disciplinary action and intimidation against the members of bar associations.
The Special Rapporteur prepared a questionnaire [English | French | Spanish] in order to elicit information from States, international and regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, judicial councils and civil society on relevant national experiences on this subject. The following States and non-State actors that provided contributions for the preparation of the report: