450,000 euros (voluntary contributions)
Project duration
24 months: 15/12/2019 – 14/12/2021
key issues to be addressed
  • support the efficient functioning of the Georgian Bar Association (GBA) and bring ethical and professional standards of lawyers in Georgia in line with European standards;
  • work with GBA to remove gaps and discrepancies in legislative framework and Association’s internal regulations, especially related to election of its Chairperson, governing bodies and its members, to ensure coherent 2021 elections;
  • Enhance the role of lawyer’s profession in administering justice.
Project partners

Georgian Bar Association and its members, Association of Law Firms of Georgia, Legal Aid Service, Parliament of Georgia, the Courts of General Jurisdiction.

Overall objective

Georgian society, including the business community, benefit from enhanced ethical and professional standards of lawyers. Lawyers benefit from a bar association that represents their interests more effectively.

Project components

1 – Harmonisation of lawyer profession and GBA-related legislation and regulatory framework with the European standards

Aim of the component: provide expertise to assess GBA related legislation’s compliance with the European standards and best practices. Namely the Law on Bar, GBA’s Charter, ethical regulations and other internal regulations concerning organization of elections of GBA governing bodies. The component will support consultations with the Parliament to revise the relevant legislation.

2 – Improving GBA's operational processes, allowing more productive and efficient functioning

Aim of the component: to provide assistance to revise GBA’s human resource management (HRM) policies, develop the electronic management system of GBA members and law firms for better access of citizens to quality legal counsel. The component will also strengthen capacities of GBA staff in a number of organizational areas and assess current management practices of the GBA committees’ work to develop a concept for their improved functioning. Furthermore, the component will assess the Bar entry exam process and content management administered by the GBA.

3 – Increase the efficiency of the GBA's Ethics Commission

Aim of this component: to identify problematic areas and challenges for lawyers’ professional ethics, support preparation and publication of the ethics code commentary and support awareness raising measures to achieve prevention of ethical violations. The component will also support development of Ethics Commissions’ electronic case management software and enhance the capacity of Commissions members and staff.

4 – Enhance the role of a lawyer’s profession in administering justice

Aim of this component: to support the development of the bench-bar format framework, provide area-specific capacity-building activities of the pro-bono lawyers and support improvement of GBA’s annual journal content.

Project background

Through the Council of Europe “Support to the Judicial Reform” Project and EU/UNDP assistance, GBA developed its 2019-2022 Strategy which was adopted in November 2018. The needs-assessment study that preceded the strategy-drafting exercise identified a number of trends. The main reason for the critical assessment of the dissatisfied members of the association (31%) was lack of communication between the governing bodies and members of the Association. The Ethics Commission’s role in preventing ethical violations was also noted as a challenge; according to the qualitative part of the research, most of the respondents stated that they mainly participate in training in order to get mandatory credits.

The GBA 2019-2022 Strategy has the following pillars:

  • Improvement and diversification of the Association’s services;
  • Support establishment of a proper environment for unhindered exercise of the lawyers’ profession;
  • Promotion of implementation of Professional Ethical standards;
  • Improvement of a public image of lawyers’ profession;
  • Strengthening operational capacities of the Association.

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights: everyone has the right “to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require”.

European Court of Human Rights case Morice C. v France, April 2015 on the Freedom of Expression of a Lawyer; ECHR case Moulin v. France 23 November 2010-confidentiality and professional secrecy; ECHR Case Mancevschi v. Moldova of 7 October 2013;

The Consultative Council for European Judges in its Opinion No 16 (2013) considers that the “relations between judges and lawyers should be based on the mutual understanding of each other’s role, on mutual respect and on independence vis-à-vis each other.” Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) further “recommends the development of dialogues and exchanges between judges and lawyers at an institutional level (both national and international) on the issue of their mutual relations, whilst taking full account of the ethical principles of both lawyers and judges”.

Recommendation Rec (2000) 21 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer highlights the role of Bars and other associations in drawing up professional standards, in ensuring professionalism of lawyers by providing in-service/initial training.

Recommendation Rec (81) 7 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on measures facilitating access to justice: “No litigant should be prevented from being assisted by a lawyer. The compulsory recourse of a party to the services of an unnecessary plurality of lawyers for the need of a particular case is to be avoided. Where, having regard to the nature of the matter involved, it would be desirable, in order to facilitate access to justice, for an individual to put his own case before the courts, then representation by a lawyer should not be compulsory.”

Recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe No. 21221 (2018) “The case for drafting a European convention on the profession of lawyer”. The Recommendation underlines: “… the specific role of lawyers gives them a central position in the administration of justice, as protagonists and intermediaries between the public and the courts. They play a key role in ensuring that the courts, whose mission is fundamental in a State based on the rule of law, enjoy public confidence. For members of the public to have confidence in the administration of justice they must have confidence in the ability of lawyers to provide effective representation.”

The Georgian Bar Association (GBA) was established in 2005. GBA is the only professional union for lawyers (advocates) in Georgia that is responsible for licensing, disciplining and ensuring quality of legal representations. Currently GBA unites almost 5,300 active advocates and the number is permanently increasing. Those candidates that have passed an GBA's entrance examination and successfully accomplished the professional adaptation programme are admitted to the Bar by the Executive Board.

The quality of justice depends on the work done by the lawyer, as reflected in the right to a fair trial and reasonable time (Art.6 of the European Convention on Human Rights). In 2013 the CCJE prepared an Opinion on the relations between judges and lawyers with a view to the better quality and efficiency of justice. Principle III.4 of the Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2000)21 of the CM to member states on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer provides that lawyers should respect the judiciary and carry out their duties towards the court in a manner consistent with domestic legal and other rules and professional standards.

GBA member-lawyers elected the new Chair, Executive Council and Ethics Commission members on 23 December 2017. This was followed by changing the GBA internal structure, number and composition of its Committees and Training Centre leadership. The election process was followed by internal disturbances questioning the legitimacy of the voting procedure due to some alleged violations during the chair’s elections; this demonstrated the gaps and discrepancies GBA internal regulations include when it comes to electing its governing body members. This proposal includes measures to identify and eradicate these gaps in order to ensure 2021 elections proceed in a more peaceful environment.

The Consultative Council of European Judges notes in its Opinion No. 16 (2013) that the judiciary should maintain working relations with the professionals whose tasks are related to the work of judges, in order to facilitate an effective and efficient administration of justice. The CCJE is of the opinion that constructive relations between judges and lawyers will improve the quality and efficiency of proceedings. Hence, two aspects of judge-lawyer relationship can be distinguished here: procedural interaction and mutual respect.

The Judge-lawyer relation has recently been challenged by the individual, personal complaints from both professions. High Council of Justice judge-member has been complaining via social media about the Georgian Bar Association’s open positioning on Supreme Court judges’ appointment process. On the other hand, individual members of the GBA do not shy away from openly criticising sitting judges for certain court decisions.

Improving the professional relations between lawyers and the judiciary is of imperative importance for the efficient and effective functioning of the justice system in Georgia. Improved professional relations between lawyers and other justice sector actors would also contribute to an enhanced functioning of the justice system.

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