Disbarment Sergey Sizintsev
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the recent disbarment of Sergey Sizintsev, a senior partner at the De Facto law firm in Kazakhstan and former Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association.
According to our information, Sergey Sizintsev served as the Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association from 2016 to 2018. In this capacity, he actively criticized the law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’, adopted in July 2018, which could undermine the independence of the legal profession in Kazakhstan. Moreover, he made public statements in multiple international and national settings with respect to issues related to the independence of the legal profession and has been critical about the work and functioning of the Ministry of Justice.
On 23 October 2018, Sizintsev was unexpectedly dismissed from his position as Executive Director of the Republic Bar Association. In March 2019, disbarment proceedings against him were initiated by the Ministry of Justice, based on Article 44 of the 2018 law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’. The official ground for these proceedings was that Sizintsev from 2016 to 2018 occupied the function of Executive Director of the National Bar Association, while at the same time continuing his legal practice and received salary for both functions.
On 21 May 2019, Sergey Sizintsev was disbarred by the Petropavlovsk Court. The court stated that Mr Sizintsev violated the law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’, which would prohibit legal practice alongside paid employment that is not related to educational, scientific or creative activities.
Although Article 33(11) of the Law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’ forbids lawyers to conduct paid work outside the context of their legal practice, it explicitly states that lawyers nevertheless shall have the right to take up paid elective or appointive office in a regional bar association, the Republican Bar Association or international public bar associations:
“An attorney shall be prohibited from holding a government employment and engaging in commercial activities, holding any other paid office, except for being a board member in a commercial organization, being elected or appointed arbitrator for resolving disputes through arbitration, as well as being engaged in teaching, scientific or creative activities. An attorney shall have the right to be elected to a paid elective or appointive office in a bar association, Republican Bar Association and international public bar associations.” (emphasis added)
Article 15(2.5) of the 2011 Kazakh law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’ (no longer in force) also stated that an attorney could take paid positions in bar associations as an exemption to the general provision prohibiting attorneys from taking other paid positions.
Lawyers for Lawyers – as well as various other organizations – therefore fear that the decision to disbar Sergey Sizintsev might be connected to, and serve to curb his legitimate activities as an attorney.
In light thereof, would like to draw your attention to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and more in particular Article 16 and 23, which read:
16c. Governments shall ensure that lawyers shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
23. Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.
In view of the above, Lawyers for Lawyers calls on the relevant authorities to revise the decision to disbar Sergey Sizintsev.
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