The Chamber of Advocates warned Wednesday that it may resort to action over planned legislation which would limit the requirement of a lawyer's warrant only to those lawyers involved in court litigation.

In a strongly-worded statement after an extraordinary general meeting, the chamber observed that a Bill presented by the government proposes to restrict the warrant of advocates exclusively for court-related work, thus allowing any person who has some academic qualification in law, as prescribed by the justice minister, to provide legal services.

Chamber president Louis de Gabriele insisted that an advocate’s warrant is not there to protect advocates, but rather to protect the public from persons who falsely give the impression that they are advocates, without having satisfied the necessary prerequisites to be awarded a warrant.

"The warrant is the assurance which the state itself gives to the public that it can safely put trust and confidence in an advocate, not only as a person who has reached the minimum levels of competence to be able to dispense legal advice to them, but also because that person in becoming a warranted advocate has shown that he/she is of good conduct and repute; has shown that he/she is fit and proper to be admitted to the profession; has undertaken at least one year of practice in the law; is governed by a set of ethical principles and is subject to disciplinary proceedings and may, if he breaches that code, be subject to losing the warrant which authorises him/her to practice law.”

"The thrust of the proposal is that going forward, a person shall not need a warrant to provide legal services outside court litigation but will simply be subject to some regulations to be made directly by the minister. It is yet unknown what these regulations will contain," the chamber said.

During the meeting, members noted with concern that the government has proceeded with the Bill without consultation. An appeal made to the Minister of Justice to suspend the debate in Parliament and to engage in meaningful discussions on a regulatory framework to regulate the profession holistically was ignored.

The Chamber said it was committed to constructively participate in a joint project with the government with a view to devising a regulatory architecture for the profession. It was also committed to having a law which respects the dignity of the profession and protects the public interest.

It said it is exploring the most effective measures in response, if the government remains intent on proceeding with the law in its current state.


Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us