FILE – Egyptian Lawyers' Syndicate
CAIRO – 9 July 2019: The Egyptian House of Representatives gave a preliminary approval on a Monday session to a draft law amending certain provisions of the law of lawyers issued in 1983.
The amendments are setting further restrictions for joining the syndicate, and also guaranteeing lawyers additional rights.
The draft bill introduces new provisions that officially aim to facilitate litigation procedures and protect the rights and freedom of individuals in accordance with Egypt's new phase which highlights the concept of the sovereignty of law. It also aims at preparing the legal university graduates before working as lawyers.
It also expands the base of social services and health care provided to lawyers to ensure them a standard of living that befits such profession through raising the lawyer fees in the cases pending before the courts of all levels.
Among the provisions introduced by the bill is reducing the formation of a number of the General Syndicate board to 29 members instead of 57, officially to facilitate the rapid issuance of decisions in accordance with easy procedures without conflicting views.
The draft law also orders conducting elections to choose the head of the syndicate as well as its members, and counting votes under judicial supervision. It enables establishing an academy for law and legal and judicial studies, where considering joining it as one of the conditions to register for the syndicate.
The draft law also included increasing guarantees to the independence of the legal profession and the immunity of the lawyer before the sessions and the parties of investigation.
According to the amendments, a lawyer's office must be inspected by the permission of the public prosecutor or the investigating judge. They also prevent lawyers from getting detained or arrested except in flagrante delicto, in case he faces accusations while performing his work.
The draft law deprives open education students from registering for the syndicate. The amendments require lawyers to be Egyptian nationals who have permanent residence in Egypt, and have obtained the certificate of the national high school Thanaweya Amma or equivalent foreign certificates. They are also required to get a law authorization from one of the faculties of law in Egypt or foreign faculties that have branches in the country.
Deputy Speaker Soliman Wahdan submitted on May 7, 2017, a proposal suggesting some amendments to Law No. 17 of 1983 that attempts at regulating the legal profession. The submission was reportedly made without consulting the Lawyers' Syndicate.
Parliamentarian Ahmed Helmy al-Sherif, the deputy of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, said that the aforementioned draft law aims at restructuring the Lawyers Syndicate and setting new conditions for membership of the syndicate board. He added that the current law has loopholes which required urgent amendments to protect the lawyers.
The bill obligates those who seek to renew their membership of the syndicate to attend a number of consecutive sessions to ensure that all the members are actually practicing the profession, Sherif stressed. He noted that the Legislative Committee of the Parliament has held several meetings with lawyers for consultancy over the new bill.
Several parliamentarians argued that the current law was issued more than 25 years ago and that it should be amended to cope with the development of the community.
On the other hand, President of the Lawyers Syndicate, Sameh Ashour, disapproved of the new amendments, refuting the Parliament’s claims about consulting with the syndicate in this regard.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdel Maguid