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Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence

Each Examining Committee shall be composed of three first degree attorneys or judges with at least ten years of experience all selected by suggestion of relevant Chairpersons of Provincial Organizations and approval of the Supervision Committee.” As a result, despite the fact that the Chairpersons of the Provincial Organizations (i.e. the current Bar Associations) have the right to suggest the members of the Examining Commissions, they shall be approved by the Supervision Commission.

Moreover, while currently the Attorneys’ Licenses are being issued by the President of the Bar Association, according to article 42: “[t]he Attorney’s License shall be issued by the signature of the Chairperson of the Provincial Organization and the Chief Director of the Justice Administration of the Province…”. Therefore if the judicial authority refuses to sign an Attorney’s License, the License may not be issued. However, according to note 1 of article 42, the Supervision Committee is determined to consider the protests regarding the process of granting the Licenses: “[i]f the Attorney’s License is not issued within one month, the issue can be protested in the Supervision Commission.”

The same requirement, i.e. the involvement of the judicial authorities, is prescribed for the procedure of taking the professional oath, but without any consequences or complaint procedure for their refusals prescribed in the law. According to article 44 of the Bill:

“After the Attorney’s License is issued and before its submission to the applicant, he/she, in the presence of the Chief Director of the Justice Administration of the Province and at least two members of the Board shall take an oath as followed and sign the written oath….”

To ensure that the supervision of the Commission can be applied in all stages of the professional life of an attorney, article 43 provides:

“Whenever the lack of any requirement set forth in this Law is detected in an attorney, the Organization shall report the issue and the reasons to the Supervision Commission and inquire about the examination … The Licenses of these individuals are valid until the decision is made unless the Commission deems it necessary to issue the order of suspension [of the said attorney].”

As mentioned earlier, according to article 17 of the Law of Independence of Bar Associations, which has been functioned as a powerful means to prevent the Judiciary from revoking Attorneys’ Licenses: “...no attorney can be suspended or barred from the career of attorneyship unless in accordance with a final decision of the Disciplinary Court [for Attorneys].” However, the drafters of the new Bill of Formal Attorneyship have had a powerful desire to end this old safeguard of right to defence. As a result, replacing the exclusive role of Disciplinary Court for Attorneys with “competent bodies”, article 48 of the new Bill provides “[n]o attorney can be barred nor suspended from the profession of attorneyship unless in accordance with final decisions of competent bodies.”

The Disciplinary Courts and Prosecutor’s Office for Attorneys are other bodies whose compositions have been changed to satisfy the intentions of the drafters of the new Bill. Currently, according to articles 13 and 14 of the Law of Independence of the Bar Associations, the Disciplinary Prosecutors and the members of the Disciplinary Courts for Attorneys consist of three attorneys appointed by the Board of Directors. However, according to article 90 of the new Bill a judge from the Judiciary shall chair each branch of the Court and attorney members of the Court function only as consultants.

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Lawyers, Right to counsel