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The Bar History in the Russian Federation

Since 1864 Russian lawyers had been guided by Judiciary Charters set for the jury and assistant lawyers estate. According to the Decree on judicial system, defenders on criminal cases and representatives on civil cases had to be educated people with good qualities and flawless reputation, guided by their civil rights and obligation (Article 3). On November 22, 1917, the new government adopted a new Decree #1, which abolished the Bar in the judicial system. However, for a long time practicing attorneys refused to accept new rules and kept working under the old system.

The Instructions of the Justice Committee (Narkomat yustitsii) of the revolutionary tribunal approved on December 19, 1917, gave the right for law defenders to set up universal bars (colleges of advocates), the members of which were eligible for representation functions in legal proceedings both as prosecutors and advocates. The Court Decree #2 adopted on 7 March 1918 allowed for participation of one defender from the bar of law defenders at the court session. On November 30, 1918, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee approved regulations on peoples courts at local executive committees. These regulations facilitated establishment of bars under the guidance of justice departments of local executive committees. The Third All-Russian Congress of Soviet justice activists held in June 1920 determined court defense as a duty, which was lately confirmed by a new Regulations on peoples courts adopted by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee on October 21, 1920. Since July 5, 1922, bar activities have been regulated by the bar regulations. A year later the bar regulations have been included as a separate chapter into the Regulations on the judicial system adopted by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee on June 7, 1923. On October 29, 1924, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR established a foundation for the judicial system of the USSR and Soviet republics, where Article 17 stated that the bars shall be founded on the self-replenishment basis under control of local executive committees. On November 19, 1926, the Regulations on the judicial system of the Russian republic defined the status of the bars as being under direct control of local district courts.

Since June 1928 the collegium of the Justice Committee of the Russian republic entitled provincial and district courts to determining membership limits. On February 27, 1932, the collegium of the Justice Committee adopted a Regulations on collective defenders, according to which the Bars new organizational order was lately established. On August 16, 1939, the Counsel of Ministers of the USSR approved the Regulations of the Bar, which at that time consisted of 8,000 attorneys. The Regulations divided the Bar into regional, territory and republican bars. On October 26, 1939, by order # 98 the Justice Committee gave itself an authority to manage presidium elections, and by order # 85 dated October 2, 1939 developed tariffs for advocate services. Order # 65 dated April 22, 1939, controlled admissions to the bars. Under the Khrushev rule, the structure of the Bar as a whole began to change. In Khrushevs speech on the 6th Session of Supreme Counsel of the USSR in 1957 he applied to lawyers and called for strengthening socialist legality and justice. In 1958 changes were made to the Foundations of the criminal procedure legislation and to several criminal procedure codes of Soviet republics, which gave lawyers more opportunities for participation in earlier stages of criminal procedure. In as early as the 50s the defender was able to represent interests of minors, foreigners and the disabled in courts even at the stage of preliminary investigation (Article 22 of the Foundations).

In 1961 Supreme Counsel of the USSR adopted a Decree on court procedures, which particularly introduced open trial with full court composition and gave more time to defenders for trial preparations. The legislative reform required amendments for by-laws of the bars. In 1961 the bars of Moscow and Leningrad replaced general meetings of the bar members with conferences. The Bars independence and its attempt to revive was undertaken and reflected in the Regulations on the Bar of 1962, despite the fact that the bars were still kept under control of justice departments of executive committees, regional and city counsels of peoples deputies. On December 23, 1970, Central Committee of the Communist Party and Counsel of Ministers of the USSR issued a Decree On improving legal work in the national economy, which described measures to be undertaken to set up attorneys work at enterprises, which had no staff lawyers. On December 8, 1972, the Ministry of Justice of the USSR approved a standard agreement on legal services at enterprises, institutes and other organizations provided by law offices of bars. The end of the 70s showed further steps in developing the rationale of the Bar as a legal institute. In Article 161 of the USSR Constitution of 1977 for the first time the Bar was recognized as a constitutional body. Almost at the same time, i.e. on November 30, 1979, the All-union Law and the Law of Russian republic On the Bar was adopted, and soon after, i.e. on November 20, 1980, a Regulations On the Bar in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was enacted. These documents defined new rights and obligations of advocates. The laws of that period lacked definitions of the Bar and bar activity. Such omissions led to different interpretations of liberal reforms in Russia of 1991-1993. In 1996-1998 due to cardinal changes taking place in business and economics, the Bar demanded a law, which would give it full independence and release from government control. As a result of the struggle between the bar community and the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation on May 31, 2002, legislators passed a Federal Law # 63 On the Bar and bar activities in the Russian Federation.




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