2011 09/06
Павал Сапелка, Менск

Paval Sapielka, Мiеnsk

Paval Sapielka sent to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus an application on the Order of the Ministry of Justice about the extraordinary official evaluation of lawyers. He points out that this document violates both international law and national legislation. (further – orthography of the primary source)

The former lawyer considers this action of MOJ another attempt to interfere with the activities of the independent institution of the Bar and to punish uncomfortable lawyers.

In accordance with the Order of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus of May 30, 2011 № 135, up till June 5, the territorial certification committee of representatives from key departments of justice, self-defense lawyers, deputies of local Councils of Deputies, courts and representatives of the legal science should be formed.

In this regard, in his appeal Paval Sapielka notes that according to current norms of the legislation, “the certification of lawyers must be conducted by the Certification Commission of the Bar, appointed by the bureau of the Bar. Membership of the certification committee is formed from at least five qualified attorneys with at least five years’ experience in the legal practice and is not subject to certification in a given period. Considering this fact, the evaluation committees as prescribed in the Order of the Ministry of Justice is no good at all.

“Firstly, all members of these committees excepting the lawyers are unlikely to fully understand all the specifics of a lawyer’s work. And I doubt that somewhere, except Belarus, there is a form of verification of attorney’s compliance to qualification requirements – namely consisting of deputies, judges, governing body of the Ministry of Justice. Perhaps, it’s still possible somewhere in the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union – said P. Sapielka. – Secondly, one way or another, they are all connected with the authorities and ruling power and are, in essence, a form of pressure upon the legal profession”.

The lawyer stresses that, in principle, the emergence of this order can only be regarded as a form of pressure upon the legal profession. This institute is an independent, by definition, and excludes any interference in its activities. In addition, this Order is contrary to various regulations governing the legal profession, including the provisions of the Law “On Advocacy» and the Decree of the Ministry of Justice “On Approval of Instruction on the procedure for certification of lawyers.” And such extraordinary official evaluation of lawyers isn’t mentioned anywhere.

“The very fact of this idea suggests that, obviously, the Justice Department some way wants to conduct an easy search of members of boards and perhaps to toss out those who for some reason became uncomfortable to authorities and ruling powers, and perhaps courts”- believes P. Sapielka.

However, it should be noted that the Presidential Decree “On licensing of certain activities” does not directly provides withdrawal of the license because of a failure to undergo certification.

“But there is a suspicion that the Justice Ministry will interpret this Order widely and will be somehow able to justify the dismissal of some lawyers from the Board or raising a question of the denial of their license – warns P. Sapielka. – A judicial perspective of appeal is already clear. We were able to observe this on the cases of those lawyers who have already appealed about the denial of their license – to no avail”.

The Ministry of Justice explained the need for extraordinary evaluation of all lawyers in Belarus – from regional and Minsk Bar – to be aiming to increase the responsibility and quality of their professional duties. But, for example, former lawyer considers other purposes obvious:

“I believe that now – after a famous trial of 19 December, after the inspections that were conducted in the Bar Association – Ministry of Justice certainly wants the lawyers, as they say, to “get their fairing”.

Paval Sapielka sees no problem in that his appeal was considered in a relatively short period of time. But in any case, the lawyer believes that the Constitutional Court must assess the Order of the Ministry of Justice, or this Order may not be the last of its kind.


Abstracts from Paval Sapielka’s appeal to the Constitutional Court of Republic of Belarus (rus.)

Quoting spring96.org,
Prepared by Ales LETA,
Belarusian Legal Portal,

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