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Last update: 24-07-2007
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Legal professions - International law

Some international principles

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has issued a number of recommendations on the legal professions.

Information on Council of Europe initiatives can be found on its website.

One of these initiatives concerns the exercise of the profession of lawyer.

This recommendation is addressed to the Governments of the Member States of the Council and set out the general principles to be followed in order to promote freedom to exercise this profession.

It deals in particular with the following points: access to the profession, initial and further training, the role and duty of lawyers, access for all persons to lawyers, organisation of the Bars, and disciplinary measures.

Another concerns the independence of judges.

This text deals with a number of basic principles for guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The recommendation also examines working conditions for judges, their responsibilities, their role and their efficiency.

In addition, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms states that everyone charged with a criminal offence 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.

This clause mainly refers to criminal cases, but the European Court of Human Rights has extended it to cover civil cases.

Reference documents

  • Recommendation Rec(2000)21 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer (Council of Europe)
  • Recommendation n° R (94) 12 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the
    independence, efficiency and role of judges (Council of Europe)
  • Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Council of Europe)

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Last update: 24-07-2007

 
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