Published: 25 Jul 2018 | By Emin Abbasov
What now for lawyers in Azerbaijan?
Where will new reforms take the legal profession?
In autumn 2017, the Azerbaijani parliament approved amendments to the legislation governing the legal profession (including a new Draft Bill of Procedural Legislation, the Bar Act, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Code of Administrative Court Procedure) but did not disclose these to the public. These were approved by President Ilham Aliyev on 7 November 2017, and as of 1 January 2018, lawyers must be members of the Azerbaijani Bar Association (ABA) in order to be able to represent clients in Azerbaijani courts.
Further to that, on 7 December 2017, the ABA held its general assembly, elected its new chairman, re-formed its governing bodies and renewed its call for candidates for the Bar exam, and adopted a controversial new code of conduct. On 28 January 2018, the ABA conducted its fifth round of examinations since its establishment in 2004, and declared that Bar exams would be held continuously from 16 April 2018. However, the ABA failed to issue further details or legally-binding rules about organising and conducting the Bar exams. President Aliyev issued a presidential order “On Additional Measures for the Advancement of Advocacy in the Republic of Azerbaijan” (dated 22 February 2018) instructing the Cabinet of Ministers to allocate funds to the ABA; provide new offices for the ABA and other offices for legal consultations across Azerbaijan; and recommended that the ABA increase the number of lawyers by conducting regular exams and ensure training to advocates in order to increase the quality of legal services.