24-04-2013

The Legal Profession In Albania

Authors

  • Prof as. Dr. Av. Maksim Haxhia, Attorney at Law
    Senior Partner at Haxhia & Hajdari Attorneys at Law

What is the background of the legal profession?

The legal profession in Albania dates back before the creation of the Albanian State, on 28.11.1912, during the Ottoman Empire in 19th Century. However, the main qualitative developments of the legal profession were reached after the years’ 20 of the last century in the period of the Albanian Monarcy. After the Second World War until the year 1967, the role of the legal profession was unsignificant, due to the fact that the justice sector, including the judicial branch was under the complete control of the single communist party in power. The legal profession was abolished by law in 1967, while attorneys at law were substituded by legal offices, representing in the court only the cases of the minors or persons accused for the criminal offences punished by law with death penalty.

It was not until the constitutional reforms which took place after the collapse of Communism that lawyers were permitted to practice again (from 1990). However, the approval of a comprehensive legal framework and the creation of the managing structures have been completed only in the year 2003 and after (The Law no. 9109, dated 17 July 2003 “On the Legal Profession in the Republic of Albania”, as amended; the Statute of the National Chamber of Advocacy approved in April 10, 2005 by the General Council of the National Chamber of Advocacy; and the Code of Ethics of Advocates approved by the General Council’s decision No. 31, dated November 12, 2005;

Which are the conditions for accessing and practicing the legal profession in Albania?

Every Albanian citizen may practice the legal profession in the Republic of Albania if he meets the following conditions, stipulated in the Article 25 of the Law no. 9109, dated 17 July 2003 “On the Legal Profession in the Republic of Albania”, as amended: a) holding a law degree from an Albanian university or has completed equivalent studies in a recognised foreign university; a/1) have successfully completed the training program for advocate candidates, in compliance to the rules specified in the Statute of the National Chamber of Advocacy, as well as the relevant training rules of procedure, which is approved by the General Council of the National Chamber of Advocates.” b) to have been registered in a chamber of advocacy and in the Ministry of Justice as an assistant with a lawyer, to have finished the one-year period of internship and to have received a positive opinion from the lawyer; c) to have received more than 50 per cent of the points in the qualification examination for the practice of the legal profession; ç) to enjoy moral and civic integrity in order to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to meet the requirements of ethics for the practice of the legal profession; d) not to have been punished for wilfully committed criminal offences, according to the proscriptions of the “Lawyer’s Code of Ethics”; dh) not to be a participant in public or private relations or activities that, according to law, the Charter of the National Chamber of Advocacy and the “Lawyer’s Code of Ethics,” are incompatible with or inappropriate to the figure and practice of the legal profession; e) to be a member of the chamber of advocacy in the jurisdiction where his place of work is located; ë) to have been furnished with a license to practice the legal profession and to have been registered in the tax organs.

Any foreign citizien who fulfills the criterias stipulated in the law for albanian citizens and after passing the albanian language exam can practice the legal profession in Albania.

What are the main oversight bodies of the legal profession? Tasks and obligations of a lawyer?

The National Chamber of Advocacy has the status of legal person, and exercises its activity independently from the state, while its main responsibility is the regulation and oversight of the practice of the legal profession in the Republic of Albania. The highest representative bodies of the National Chamber of Advocacy are the General Council and the Management Council. Under the National Chamber of Advocacy there are 13 regional Chambers of Advocates, which are organized in the same way as the National Chamber of Advocates.

The General Council of the National Chamber of Advocacy is composed of not less than one representative elected for this purpose from every chamber of advocacy, and is among other things, responsible for approving the Statute and the Code of Ethics for Advocates, the rules for the qualification examination for practising the legal profession, the rules and conditions for internship period and professional training of lawyers as well as for assisting and co-ordinating the activities of the regional chambers. The Management Council of the National Chamber of Advocacy, among other things, is responsible for drafting the Statute and the Code of Ethics of Advocates.

Concerning lawyers’tasks, they are exclusively competent to provide their clients with legal advice, to represent them before courts, prosecutors ‘office, judicial and administrative authorities. In general, a lawyer has the duty of practising his profession with honesty and dignity, of respecting the rules of professional ethics and of using all lawful means for the faithful defence of the rights and interests of the persons defended or represented by him. Saying so, lawyers must comply with all the provisions of the Law on Legal Profession, Statute of the Albanian National Chamber of Advocacy and the Lawyers’ Code of Ethics. Lawyer’s compliance with the rules of professional conduct and their infringements are supervised and dealt by the disciplinary structures of the Albanian National Chamber of Advocacy, such as the Complaint Commissioner and Disciplinary Committee, as foreseen by the law (chapter VIII “Disciplinary Process against Lawyers”of the law on legal profession as amended by the law 91/2012, dated 27.09.2012).

What are the main problems faced by the legal profession and lawyer’ everyday activity?

Due to the abolishment of the legal profession during the communist regime, there is little tradition and awareness of this profession, and it still remains a relatively new profession facing with a lot of difficulties and challenges. The legal profession, in general and the role of lawyer itself, is not recognised, by other justice actors such as judges or prosecutors, as an important actor in the administration of justice and as a guarantee for the protection of human rights as accepted in the democratic states governed by the principle of the rule of law. This is reflected on the discriminated physical conditions for lawyers on the premises of courts, insufficient secretarial services, lack of equal treatment with the prosecution in the court sessions, lack of lawyers’ representation in the legislative drafting process, etc. Meanwhile, there is a need for a better disciplining process for lawyers who do not comply with the ethical and professional conduct as foreseen in the legal framework, where the later on is amended and improved on this aspect by the Law 91/2012, dated 27.09.2012 on the legal profession.

What are the recent developments which would contribute on the strengthening of legal profession?

As part of its continued attempts to ensure that the governance of the legal profession in Albania is fit for its purpose in a modern democratic state, the Albania National Chamber of Advocacy has co-operated during the last years with Slynn Foundation in the UK, Usaid Programme, Scuola Superiore dell’Avvocatura, in Italy and Council of Bars and Law Societies (CCBE). The underlying goal of these projects is the establishment of a system which will preserve an independent legal profession in Albania, and contribute in vindicating the rule of law. Main achievements are:

  • The creation of the National School of Advocacy, as a body of the National Chamber of Advocacy to deal with the drafting of training curricula, organisation and administration of initial training of candidates for lawyers and continuing training of lawyers;
  • The introduction of the mandatory Programme on Continues Legal Education for lawyers and assistant lawyers, ensuring a higher professionalism among legal profession;
  • The reform on lawyers’ disciplinary structures for strengthening the transparency and public access on the administration of justice;
  • The establishment of the Bar Journal, as a periodic professional newsletter for the legal profession.
Last modified on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 16:36

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