civil litigation

Amendments to the Lawyer’s Code

Recently, a new law was published (gov. gazette A’ 214/06.11.2020) which brought changes to the Greek Lawyer’s code. The law no. 4745/2020, titled: “Regulations for the acceleration of the pending cases’ adjudication that are subject to Law no 3869/2010, according to the requirements of par. 1 of article 6 of European Convention on Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) and other provisions”, affects matters regarding the acquisition of legal status, the required traineeship, the representation in notarial deeds, the General Assembly meetings of the Bar Associations, as well as the disciplinary procedure.

What changes for trainee lawyers?

Article 2  part B’ of the Law (Chapter A) introduces strict  academicrequirements  (minimum grade 7.5 and possession of a postgraduate diploma) forthird country citizens who are graduates Greek law schools wishing to exercise the legal profession in Greece. More specifically, third country citizens must have graduated with a minimum grade of 7,5/10 from a Greek Law school and to also hold a master’s degree to be allowed registration in a Bar Association and hence the completion of the required traineeship to become a licensed attorney.

Article 3 of the same chapter extends the duration of lawyer’s traineeship e from six months to twelve both in courts and in legal departments of public services. This regulation aims to familiarize the trainee with the judicial function and the administrative procedure, which are inextricably linked to the legal vocation.

In addition, aiming to the faster completion of the qualifying exams, the responsibility and supervision of the competition is now assigned to the Plenary Session of the Presidents of the Greek Bar Associations and various relevant procedural details are provided for.

Reappointment of highly distinguished athletes

The Olympic and Paralympic lawyers who have been appointed in the public sectorare given the opportunity to be reappointed as lawyers when they leave their service. With the enactment of this provision, the purpose of par. 9 of article 34 of Law 2725/1999 is achieved, which is none other than rewarding highly distinguished athletes.

Regarding the Lawyer’s work

Αrticle 10 of the chapter adds to the workwork of the lawyer the possibility to conclude contracts between the “Hellenic Cadastre” and the relevant bar associations of the country in order to support and accelerate the  completion of the goals of the “Hellenic Cadastre”.

Amendments are also observed in relation to the lawyer’s representation in notarial deeds. In particular, the procedure for certifying the authenticity of the attorney’s signature on the draft contract isabolished by the competent Bar Association – an unnecessary procedure – without offending legal certainty and the validity of the relevant acts. As a result,  the mention of a lawyer’s representation in the contract is sufficient, and the attachment of a draft of the relevant contract is not required.

Law firms

In the case of law firms, partners are given the opportunity to distribute profits of the current corporate year against the annual profits arising on the basis of the annual financial statements for that year. This amendment was necessary so that the tax authority does not mix up the partners’ drawings with the fees or benefits provided in kind according to articles 12 and 13 of law 4172/2013 (Income Tax Code).

Notes for advance payment of contributions and stamps

Article 61 of the Bar Code is amended, specifically the provisions concerning the issuance of notes for advance payment of contributions. In particular, the issuance of a single note for proposals and representation of the regular procedure before the Magistrates’ Court, the Single Member and the Multi-Member Court of First Instance is envisaged. The goal of this amendment is the attunement with the provision of Article 237 of the Civil Procedure Code which establishes an optional representation in the discussion of the new regular procedure, while with regard to the single note, the annexes to the regular procedure in article 26 of this law are also updated.

Also, the lawyer must submit one note for his representation before the criminal courts, investigators or investigating officers or judicial councils, regardless of the number of principals he represents. At the same time, in order not to disproportionately restrict the right of judicial protection of the accused person, it is provided that specifically on criminal remedies (where there is no possibility to later cover for the formal omission to submit that note), this omission entails only the penalties of par. 5 and not the inadmissibility of the remedy.

It is also established that a note must be submitted in case the lawyer has to present himself for obtaining affidavits, regardless of the number of affidavits received under the same legal aid. Also, a provision is added according to which the procedure of withdrawing from the petition, postponing or canceling the discussion is exempted from the obligation to present a note.

Furthermore the updates of annexes I and II of Law 4194/2013 provide for they payment of an independent fee and the issuance of the corresponding note for representation in notarial deeds which concern amendments of agreements in matters of custody, contact and alimony of children, after the issuance of initial deed of divorce certificate (where these issues are regulated) according to provision 1441 of the Civil Code.

Participation in the General Assemblies via teleconference

Moreover, the new law enables participation and voting in General assemblies through teleconference, to ensure the smooth operation of the bodies of Bar Associations which include island regions. In fact, for the quorum of the decisions of the General Assemblies of the Associations, the participants through a video conference are also considered.

The disciplinary procedure

The changes set forth for the disciplinary procedure which are based on the principle of proportionality and which take into account the lawyer´s essential status as a freelance lawyer, were also considered necessary. In this context, an attempt is made to rationalize – to a reasonable extent – the statute of limitations for disciplinary offenses (three years instead of five) and to redefine the limits of the imposed fine on disciplinary offenses (up to € 10,000 instead of € 20,000). At the same time, privacy is ensured during the process of disciplinary investigation, as befits its nature, while sharing information in public is prevented , as deemed necessary for the protection of personal data and hence the personality of the persons involved.

Finally, article 27 of this Law incorporates the established jurisprudence of the Council of State, according to which the decision of the Supreme Disciplinary Council is final and is subject to an application for annulment and an application for suspension before the Council of State.