The Chamber of Advocates has called for moderation in public comments about lawyers in the course of their duties that are intended to publicly humiliate court opponents for doing their job.
It expressed disappointment at what it described as "repeated attempts aimed at influencing or conditioning a lawyer in the performance of his duties, by consistently and persistently commenting publicly and in the media in an adverse and almost humiliating way”.
The chamber did not identify who was subjected to these attacks but Repubblika president Robert Aquilina linked the statement to a complaint filed by State Advocate Chris Soler over a Facebook post that Aquilina shared on Thursday morning in which he likened the courtroom behaviour of Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg and State Advocate Chris Soler to their "North Korean counterparts".
Aquilina’s comments were made over the case Repubblika filed over the Attorney General’s order not to prosecute high-ranking Pilatus Bank officials, despite a magisterial inquiry concluding that charges ought to be issued.
Aquilina recently authored the book Pilatus: A Laundromat Bank in Europe and has been vocal in events exposing corruption, abuse of power and impunity.
Aquilina wrote on Thursday that: “Soler is defending Victoria Buttigieg. From the way they behave, together they look like the Attorney General and the State Advocate of North Korea.”
The chamber said it is the duty of the lawyer towards his client to do everything that is legitimate and within the parameters of professional ethics to promote his client's case. The lawyer must never and under no circumstances be the subject of attacks on his person or professionalism simply because he is performing his duties.
It said it was obvious that opposing parties in court did not agree as this was inevitable in a judicial forum. However, this should not lead to personalisation or intimidation or ridicule of the lawyer for doing his or her job.
“The role of the lawyers on both sides is that of participating in the full process to achieve justice and this without being embarrassed with what their client allegedly did or publicly ridiculed simply because they did their duty,” the chamber said.
It said this should also apply to the State Advocate “who is bound by the same ethical and procedural duties as any other lawyer".
“The fact that the State Advocate’s client is the state itself should not lead to the lawyer himself being the object of criticism or attacked in his personal or professional capacity simply because he is serving his duties and raises issues in court that were in practice raised by other lawyers. In other words, the object of that criticism should be the state and/or the government, as the client, and not its lawyer,” the chamber said.
“It is evident that when a lawyer, including the state lawyer, as a professional makes his arguments in the courts, it does not mean that those are his personal arguments, but they are the arguments of his client,” it added, as it called for more maturity and the moderation of public comments on lawyers’ professionalism in the performance of their duties.
In a post reacting to the chamber’s statement, Aquilina said Soler should “grow up” and take criticism in his stride.