Issue 1 | 1 October 2020
- The newly elected Council of the Chamber of Advocates had its first meeting on the 3rd August 2020. Following the submission of the Electoral Report, the President of the Council was appointed by unanimity, as were the various officers of the Council in terms of the Statute.
- The Council also held meetings on the 12th and 21st August and on the 9th September for the purposes of addressing pressing matters pertaining to the enactment of the Legal Profession (Advocates) Regulation Act and the Covid-19 pandemic. A further urgent meeting was called on the 24th September following concerns being raised by members with respect to the enforcement of Covid-19 protocols in the Courts of Justice, with the Council subsequently managing to reach agreement on the further revision of Covid-19 safety protocols on the 22nd September as well as following a meeting held with the Minister for Justice and the Court Services Agency on the 26th September.
- The Council has been intensively engaged in discussions pertaining to the enactment of the Legal Profession (Advocates) Regulation Act, and is currently in the process of reviewing amendments to the draft bill forwarded by Government in reply to that originally submitted by the Chamber.
- The Council has taken note of the developments pertaining to the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic and to the legitimate concerns raised by its members. It has also taken note of the fact that during the summer months, two court officials have been confirmed to have contracted the virus.
- The Council has expressed its concern with the Minister for Justice, the Director General of the Court Services Agency and the Chief Justice regarding the lack of enforcement of the precautionary protocols put in place at the start of the pandemic and is in engaged in a continuous review of the same. Whilst the Council has managed to obtain enhanced safety protocols following a meeting held with the Minister for Justice and the Court Services Agency, the Council has nonetheless reserved the right to re-consider its position should it not be satisfied that the revised protocols are being enforced in a way which significantly reduces the risk posed to advocates in the course of their practice.
- Whilst the Council urges all its members to respect and abide by the Covid-19 protocols agreed to with the authorities, it similarly calls for the co-operation and collegiality of all interested parties in order that advocates are able to continue to practice and serve in the current extra-ordinary circumstances.
- Act XVII of 2020, amending the Second Schedule to the Civil Code was published on the 11th August 2020. This notice is being brought to the attention of all subject persons and administrators of legal organisations since in virtue of these amendments, the functions of the Registrar of Companies have been widened to include the functions of Registrar of Legal Persons.
- The FIAU has published an AML/CFT related guidance document entitled Interpretative Note: Relevant Activity for Lawyers. The purpose of this guidance document is to assist independent legal professionals to meet their obligations under the PMLFTR and FIAU Implementing Procedures by explaining when a legal professional is deemed to be a subject person, and by providing an interpretation of the term ‘relevant activity’, as applicable to advocates. This guidance note has been drafted in conjunction with the Chamber of Advocates and forms part of a broader set of guidance on the implementation of advocates’ AML/CFT obligations.
GUIDANCE & POLICY
- It is the aim of the Council to increase its role in the academic formation of advocates in Malta. To this end the Council has undertaken to foster a significant working relationship with the Faculty of Laws of the University of Malta, whilst continuing to organize various seminars and talks through its Malta Law Academy. This, together with increased involvement in the pupillage of trainee advocates, should result in junior advocates being better prepared to operate to the standard required of the profession.
- The Council highlights the concerns expressed by the Committee for Advocates and Legal Procurators that Advocates are regularly failing to explain to clients the costs and fees pertaining to any particular brief. Advocates are to observe their ethical and legal obligations in this respect with a view to reducing the number of complaints lodged with the Committee and in order to uphold the dignity and integrity of the profession whilst performing to the standards legitimately expected by clients.
MEDIA & CAMPAIGNS
- The Council is actively considering the adoption of formal policies to regulate the manner in which it engages with its members, the press and the general public, as well as considering the adoption of a uniform approach to public relations, particularly in matters of urgency or controversy.
- The Council has also undertaken to publish a newsletter on a quarterly basis with a view to keeping its members informed of key developments affecting the profession as well as of the Council’s operation.
- On the 16 September the Council issued a press statement calling for responsible journalism and reporting of judicial proceedings, and this in line with the Council’s stance that the general public is best served by the media only if the latter fulfils its function in a manner which respects the judicial process, members of the judiciary, advocates and all key players concerned in the administration of justice and with the rule of law. To this end the Council reiterates that reporting of the judicial process must be carried out in a manner which gives a full and comprehensive picture of the process in a clear, complete and factual manner.
- Following an undertaking by the Council to keep its members and the general public aware of its activities the Council has over the course of the last few weeks sought to make public statements and letters which have been deemed to be of general interest to its members and to this end has sought to publish correspondence it has had with the Director General of the Court Services Agency inter alia on the 25th September wherein the Council’s concerns at the enforcement and efficacy of the Covid-19 protocols were raised.
- 7 October: Quarterly Law Webinar
- 6 November: Council Strategy Meeting
- 2 – 7 November: IBA 2020 – Virtually Together
- 25 November: ‘Covid-19 and The Law’ Webinar