The International Association of Lawyers declares support for the Lawyers Act Amendment

The Bill for amendment of the Lawyers Act, filed with the Bulgarian Parliament on 23 January 2015, was approved by the parliamentary Legal Commission on 27 June 2016. It is currently expecting review and first vote the members of the National Assembly. One of the most disputed amendments in it is the idea to expand the certification competence of lawyers with right to certify certain private documents, which are not subject to statutory registration.

The President of the International Association of Lawyers (IAL), Mr Jean-Jacques Uettwiller, expressed his support for the amendments envisaged in the Lawyers Act Bill in a letter dated 2 August 2016 addressed to the President of the Bulgarian Parliament. The letter mentions also the concerns of the association raised by the “aggressive and highly polarized reaction” against the bill caused by certain organizations in Bulgaria, particularly with respect to the option to expand the certification powers of lawyers and entrust them with rights similar to notary certification for certain documents. Regardless of the negative response, according to the President of IAL, the envisaged amendment is in line with the European traditions of the legal profession and ultimately it is in the interest of the clients.

The letter to the Parliament follows the visit of Mr Uettwiller in Sofia earlier this summer when he was invited by the Bulgarian Supreme Council of Lawyers to share the international experience in the field of document certification by lawyers (in France, lawyers are entrusted with certification competency pursuant to a special law adopted a few years ago). With that regard, in an interview on the Bulgarian National Television on 1 July 2016, the President of IAL explained his arguments in support of the Bill based on the positive experience in that field in France in the recent years. According to him – as confirmed by the French Council for Protection of Competition, the lawyers belong to a highly regulated profession, being subject to strict requirements vis-à-vis their professional competence and skills and to efficient control system, therefore entrusting them with powers to certify certain documents is in compliance with law and in the best interest of the legal certainty.