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Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence

In 1953, the pursuit of these attorneys for greater independence succeeded and Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the then Prime Minister of Iran who was a lawyer himself, signed the “Bill of Independence of the Iranian Bar Association”—on the basis of the special legal authority bestowed to him by Iran’s Parliament.  On February 26, 1953 the Minister of Justice noticed the law (hereinafter the “Law of Independence”) to the then Chairperson of the Bar (Seyed Hashem Vakil) and the era of independence commenced.  Thereafter, that day was commemorated as the “Day of Independence of the Bar” and the “Day of Attorney” which has since been annually celebrated by Bar Associations and attorneys in Iran.

By order of the Law of Independence, the supervision of the Government and Judiciary over the Bar Association was terminated and the Bar was deemed independent. Article 1 of the Law of Independence stipulates:

"The Bar Association is an independent body with a legal personality and shall be established where the Provincial Courts are established. It shall consist of a General Assembly, Board of Directors, Attorneys’ Disciplinary Prosecutor Office and Disciplinary Courts."

Accordingly, attorneys achieved the right to elect the Bar Association’s board of directors through direct ballot; and the board of directors, in turn, appointed the Chairperson of the Association. In addition, under the Law of Independence, the Bar Association became the only body responsible for confirming the legal qualifications and competence of the candidates running in the Board’s election. For the next 25 years, until 10 June 1978, the date of the last election of the Board before the 1979 Revolution, twelve main members and six substitute members of the Board were regularly elected without any interference from the Judiciary. Similarly, the Law of Independence also gave the Bar Association an exclusive role in granting and revoking licenses to practice law without the interference of the Judiciary; and, Attorneys’ Disciplinary Courts and Prosecutor’s Office were deemed responsible to deal with professional faults of attorneys. Finally, as it is still the case, the attorneys should pay all of the Bar Association’s expenses and the association did not receive any financial aid from the government.

To preserve the independence of attorneys and prevent the Judiciary from prosecuting attorneys, articles 15 and 16 of the Law of Independence stipulated:

Article 15- "If any municipal or provincial judges or prosecutors learn of any prosecutable offences committed by any lawyers, they must inform the Disciplinary Prosecutor's Office for Lawyers of the matter in writing. If the said Prosecutor's Office determines that the matter warrants prosecution, it should issue a bill of indictment and refer the matter to the Disciplinary Court for Lawyers or present its opinion to the Prosecutor with corroborative evidence. In the event the Prosecutor is not satisfied with the opinion of the Disciplinary Prosecutor's Office for Lawyers he shall refer the matter directly to the Disciplinary Court for Attorneys”.
Article 16- “When the Minister of Justice, for any reason, determines that an attorney is prosecutable, providing the evidences, he shall refer the case to the Disciplinary Court for Attorneys; and, then, if he is not satisfied with the decision of the said Court he shall apply for appeal.”
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