On Wednesday, May 15th, the participants of IX St. Petersburg International Legal Forum discussed amendments to the Federal Law ‘On legal profession and advocacy in the Russian Federation’ which are to legalize provisions on a success based fee. The discussion was held at the Conference of the Russian Federal Bar Association ‘Lawyers’ Fee. Present and Future’.
Yuriy Pilipenko, President of Russian Federal Bar Association, was moderating the discussion. Aleksandr Konovalov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, Denis Novak, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, Simon Babayan, Director of School of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia, Anar Baghirov, Chairman of Bar Association of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Ulrich Wessels, President of German Federal Bar, Vadim Klyuvgant, Vice President of Moscow Chamber of Lawyers, Marie-Aimee Peyron, President of Paris Bar, Emanoil Plosnita, President of Moldovan Bar Association, and Melissa Pang, President of Law Society of Hong Kong, took part in the discussion.
Opening the discussion Yuriy Pilipenko noted that lawyers shouldn’t be shy to discuss this topic. ‘Today on the sidelines of the forum I’ve heard lots of caustic but amicable remarks that fee is the only concern for lawyers,’ he said while noting that there’s nothing to be ashamed of as a fee is in fact a lawyer’s salary. But the notion itself poses certain risks or even threats. ‘Modern fee has become something posing a threat. In Russia law enforcement agencies are increasingly interested in advocacy as in both a procedural opponent and investigation focus. We can’t but see that. A lawyer is becoming an object of criminal prosecution for getting fees', he explained.
Attempts to amend Russian legislation are made to eliminate this problem. A number of amendments to the Federal Law ‘On legal profession and advocacy in the Russian Federation’ were introduced to the State Duma on May 18th, 2018. They are to legalize among others provisions on a success based fee. Currently the draft has passed through the first reading only.
‘Talking about a success based fee, a right to include a provision on an interdependence of a fee and a result in a legal services contract, means that we undoubtedly support this proposal. Provisions on including such a condition in a contract tried by Constitutional Court were not called into question. The Court only ruled that such parameters, criteria and relevant procedures are to be legislatively defined. And Advocacy Law is the act to regulate rendering professional legal services. It’s absolutely correct that a condition to legalize provisions on a success based fee will be included,’ said Denis Novak, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation. He also emphasized that currently the amendments by the Ministry of Justice have been brought into compliance with all relative agencies and are to be introduced to the State Duma.
Mr. Novak called the development of provisions endorsed in the draft concept of legal services market regulation to be the next stage of legislative reforms. The draft is being devised by the Ministry of Justice together with expert community. It is to reflect new types and forms of legal services provided including those which are not associated with the classic notion of advocacy.
Aleksandr Konovalov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, dwelled upon the concept in more details. ‘The concept of the reform implies consistent solution of a number of questions. The first stage involves a wide range of questions related to the organization of lawyers’ work, additional opportunities for its status fulfillment and enhancement. It is only basing on the first stage that we are ready to pose a question of legal professions merging under the auspices of advocacy. The last stage can involve the so-called lawyer’s monopoly on court representation. I would point out another component at the last stage which is mentioned not that frequently but is still a crucial element of the advocacy reform. That is motivating lawyers to conduct long-term decent professional activity,’ said Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation.
Aleksandr Konovalov emphasized that the reform will push incompetent specialists out of the market. ‘I think the goal for the first stage of the reform is to liberate the legal services market from absolutely incompetent consultations, which are often illegal, and to create such conditions to streamline lawyers’ work that will make the profession more attractive and the discussed merging, currently perceived as a ‘scarecrow’, absolutely painless, voluntary and fruitful,’ said the Minister.
St. Petersburg International Legal Forum is held on May 14-18th in the eastern wing of the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage. It is organized under the auspices of the President of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.