Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers
(with amendments and amplifications approved by
Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the Federal Law “On Advocacy and the Bar in the Russian Federation”, with a view to upholding professional honor and promoting the Russian advocacy traditions, and recognizing their moral responsibility towards the public, lawyers of the Russian Federation have adopted this Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers.
The Bar cannot exist or function unless its members observe corporate discipline and professional ethical rules, uphold their honor and dignity, and maintain the authority of the Bar.
The Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers establishes mandatory rules of conduct in line with the moral criteria and traditions of the Bar, as well as international standards and rules of professional conduct, which all lawyers must comply with in the course of their professional activities.
In executing their professional duties, lawyers may be guided by the rules and standards set forth in the Common Code of Conduct for European Lawyers insofar as such rules do not contravene the Law on Advocacy and the Bar or the provisions of this Code.
1. This Code amplifies the rules established by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar.
2. None of the provisions of this Code may be interpreted as prescribing or permitting such conduct as may contradict the provisions of the Law on Advocacy and the Bar.
1. This Code applies to lawyers.
2. Lawyers in charge of professional associations (colleges) of lawyers must familiarize lawyers’ assistants, probationers and other employees with this Code and ensure their compliance with the requirements provided herein in the part pertaining to their official duties.
1. In all circumstances lawyers must uphold professional honor and dignity.
2. The necessity of complying with the lawyers’ rules of conduct arises from the fact of having been called to the Bar.
3. In the instances when professional ethical matters remain unregulated either by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar or by this Code, lawyers must observe the customs and traditions of the Bar that reflect the socially accepted moral standards.
4. If a lawyer cannot decide on his/her actions in a complicated ethical situation, he/she may apply to the Bar Council of the Chamber of Lawyers in the relevant constituent territory of the Russian Federation (hereinafter – the Bar Council) for explanation, which he/she cannot be denied.
1. Professional independence of lawyers is a prerequisite of their trustworthiness.
2. Lawyers must avoid such actions as may lead to a breach of trust.
3. A breach of trust is incompatible with the status of lawyer.
1. No lawyer can inspire trust unless he/she can keep professional secrets. Professional discretion of the lawyer secures the client’s immunity as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
2. Non-disclosure of professional secrets is an unconditional priority of the lawyer’s professional activity. No time limit is set for the keeping of professional secrets.
3. The client is the only person who may relieve the lawyer of the duty of keeping professional secrets.
4. The lawyer may use without the client’s consent only such information imparted by the client as may be reasonably deemed necessary for supporting the lawyer’s position in a civil dispute with such client or for defending himself/herself during disciplinary or criminal proceedings initiated against him/her.
5. Non-disclosure rules apply to:
6. The lawyer may not give testimony about facts that come to his/her knowledge in the course of performing his/her professional duties.
7. The lawyer may not assign to a third party the right of monetary claim arising from the agreement with the client.
8. When rendering legal assistance, lawyers that practice law jointly under a partnership agreement must apply the non-disclosure rule to all partners.
9. To preserve professional secrets, the lawyer must keep case records separately from the records or documents belonging to the client. Any records that pertain to the lawyer’s case file or any lawyer-client correspondence must be clearly and expressly marked as belonging to or coming from the lawyer.
10. The non-disclosure rule also applies to the lawyers’ assistants, probationers and other employees of colleges of lawyers.
Note: For the purpose of this Code, the client shall be understood to mean:
1. The lawyer will accept the commission to handle a case even if he/she may have doubts of legal nature, which do not preclude a possibility of defending and advocating the client’s interests reasonably and in good faith.
2. Prevention of legal disputes is an integral part of legal assistance provided by the lawyer;
In performing professional duties, lawyers:
1. Lawyers may not:
2. Lawyers may combine legal practice with the duties of a chief executive officer of an association (college) of lawyers or with the duties of an elected official in the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or in the Federal Chamber of Lawyers.
Execution of duties of an elected official in the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or in the Federal Chamber of Lawyers and of the duties of a chief executive officer of an association (college) of lawyers is a professional obligation of lawyers.
Remuneration for work performed by lawyers in the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or in the Federal Chamber of Lawyers in execution of the aforementioned duties is paid by the respective chamber in the form of compensation for the lawyers’ involuntary impossibility to engage in full in the practice of law.
3. Lawyers may not:
4. Performance of professional duties arising from accepted commissions must prevail over other activities of lawyers.
Other activities that lawyers may engage in cannot belittle the honor and dignity of the lawyer or impair the authority of the Bar.
1. In the legal profession, law and ethics must prevail over the client’s wishes. Lawyers cannot comply with such wishes, requests or instructions of their clients as may lead to the violation of law or a breach of rules established by this Code.
2. Lawyers may not give persons applying for legal assistance or clients such promises of a favorable outcome of the case as may directly or indirectly indicate that to attain that goal the lawyers intend to use means other than those related to a good faith performance of their duties.
3. Lawyers must not accept new commissions that would impede the execution of a prior commission.
4. Lawyers must not have debt commitments to the clients.
5. Lawyers must not become too familiar with the clients.
6. Upon cancellation of a commission, the lawyer must promptly return to the client all the original documents pertaining to the case, complete with the power of attorney.
7. In performing a commission, the lawyer acts on the presumption that all of the documents and information provided by the client are authentic, so the lawyer does not check the validity thereof.
8. When lawyers provide free legal aid in the instances specified by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar or pro bono legal assistance by the appointment of an inquiry agency, or an investigation agency, or by a public prosecutor or court, the lawyers’ duties, as provided for by the above Law, do not differ from their duties when providing legal assistance for a fee.
9. If, following the lawyer’s acceptance of a commission to act as defense counsel in a criminal case during the pre-trial investigation and in a trial court, it is discovered that under the circumstances the lawyer had no right to accept that commission, the lawyer must terminate the relevant agreement. In making the decision to terminate an agreement due to impossibility of performance of the client’s commission, the lawyer must, where possible, notify the client to that effect, so that the latter could retain another lawyer.
1. The lawyer may not act as consultant, defense counsel or legal representative to several conflicting parties in one and the same case; the lawyer can only facilitate the reconciliation of such parties.
2. If, due to specific circumstances, it becomes necessary to provide legal assistance to parties with conflicting interests, or in the event of a possible conflict of interests, lawyers who jointly provide legal assistance under a partnership agreement must obtain from all the parties involved in the dispute permission to continue the execution of commission and ensure equal conditions for the legal protection of such interests.
Participating in or attending judicial and administrative proceedings, lawyers must comply with the relevant rules of procedure, respect the court and other participants in the proceedings, monitor the observance of law in respect of the client, and, in the event of violations of the latter’s rights, file motions to correct such violations.
When raising objections against actions of judges or other participants in the proceedings, lawyers must act in a civil manner and in accordance with the law.
1. Apart from the instances specified in the Law on Advocacy and the Bar, lawyers may not accept commissions from two or more persons to act as their defense counsel in the same criminal case, if:
2. Having accepted, by appointment or by agreement, the commission to act as defense counsel in a criminal case, lawyers may not disengage themselves from this obligation, except as otherwise provided by the law, and must perform all of the duties of defense counsel, including, where necessary, the execution and the filing of a cassational complaint against the court judgment regarding the defendant.
Having accepted, by appointment or by agreement, the commission to act as defense counsel at the stage of pre-trial investigation, lawyers may not refuse without legitimate reason to perform this duty during the trial.
3. The defense counsel must not, without reason, worsen the situation of other defendants. Any actions of the defense counsel against other defendants, whose interests contradict those of the defense counsel’s client, are only justified if otherwise the lawyer cannot ensure in full the client’s defense.
4. The defense counsel must contest the court judgment:
1. If the lawyer cannot, for good reason, appear in court or participate in investigative activities at a fixed time, or if the lawyer intends to file a motion for changing the time of the hearings or investigative activities, he/she should notify accordingly the judge or the case investigator in advance, inform the other lawyers participating in the case, and agree with them on the time of the specified procedures.
2. The lawyer may only interview the client’s procedural opponent, whose interests are represented by another lawyer, with the consent or in the presence of the latter.
1. Lawyers will build relations with other lawyers on the basis of mutual respect and observance of their professional rights.
2. Lawyers must refrain from:
3. No lawyer may persuade persons wishing to retain a specific lawyer to conclude an agreement on legal assistance between himself/herself and that person.
4. The lawyer must inform the Bar Council about his/her agreement to handle a case against another lawyer with respect to the latter’s professional activities.
If the lawyer undertakes to represent the client in a dispute with another lawyer, he/she must inform the colleague to that effect and, observing the client’s interests, propose an amicable resolution of the dispute.
5. Relations among lawyers must not affect the protection of interests of the parties to dispute. Lawyers may not forgo the interests of their clients for the sake of comradery or any other relationships.
6. Lawyers must execute the decisions of the management of Chambers of Lawyers or of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers adopted within their respective jurisdictions.
7. Lawyers must personally or financially participate in the provision of free legal aid in the instances specified by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and of pro bono legal assistance by the appointment of an inquiry agency, or an investigation agency, or by a public prosecutor or court, in accordance with the procedure established by the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation.
8. The lawyer in charge of an association (college) of lawyers must take measures to ensure that all the lawyers duly perform the professional duty of providing free legal aid and pro bono legal assistance by appointment, make financial contributions for the needs of the Chamber of Lawyers and carry out other decisions of the management of Chambers of Lawyers or of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers adopted within their respective jurisdictions.
1. Lawyers are entitled to receive due remuneration (fees) for work, as well as compensation for such costs and expenses as may be incurred thereby.
2. The lawyer’s fee is determined by the agreement between the parties and may reflect the scope and complexity of commission, the time required to execute the commission, the lawyer’s expertise and competence, deadlines, the urgency of the commission, as well as other circumstances.
3. Lawyers should refrain from including in the agreement such terms and conditions whereby the payment of the fee becomes contingent on the outcome of the case.
This rule does not apply to property disputes wherein the lawyer’s fee may be determined pro rata the amount in dispute in the event of a successful resolution of the case.
4. Lawyers may not share their fees with non-lawyers, particularly under the pretext of shared duties.
5. Lawyers may not accept from clients any property to secure the agreed fee, except for the amounts deposited with the association (college) of lawyers by way of advance payments.
6. If, in the course of providing legal assistance, the lawyer agrees, at the client’s request, to manage the client’s monetary funds (hereinafter – the client’s funds), the lawyer must comply with the following mandatory rules:
1. Information about a lawyer or a college of lawyers is admissible, unless it contains:
2. If lawyers (a college of lawyers) learn about unauthorized distribution of advertising of their activities, which runs counter to these requirements, they must accordingly notify the Bar Council.
1. Violation of the provisions of the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and of this Code, committed by lawyers intentionally or by gross negligence, entails the imposition of disciplinary sanctions as provided by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and this Code.
2. Disciplinary sanctions cannot be imposed, if a lawyer’s conduct (failure to act), while containing all the formal indicia of a violation of the provisions of the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and of this Code as described in part 1 hereof, does not, due to its insignificant nature, injure the lawyer’s honor or dignity, impair the authority of the Bar or cause significant damage to the client or the Chamber of Lawyers.
3. No lawyer acting in accordance with recommendations of the Bar Council regarding the application of the rules of this Code can be held liable for disciplinary violations.
4. Disciplinary sanctions may only be imposed in the course of disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the rules described in Section 2 of this Code.
In selecting a disciplinary sanction, the Bar Council must take into account the gravity of violation, the circumstances under which the violation has been committed, the form of guilt, and other factors, which the Bar Council may deem material and take into account before making the judgment.
5. Disciplinary sanctions may be imposed within six months of the discovery of a violation, excluding the time of sick leaves or holidays.
Disciplinary sanctions can only be imposed before the expiry of one year since the date of violation.
6. Disciplinary sanctions may include:
1. The procedure for considering and resolving complaints, presentments and communications about lawyers (including the heads of associations (colleges) of lawyers) is established by this Section of the Code.
2. A lawyer’s action, which injures his/her honor and dignity or impairs the authority of the Bar, non-performance or inappropriate performance of professional duties to the client, and nonperformance
of the decisions adopted by the management of a Chamber of Lawyers must be reviewed by the Qualifications Commission and the Bar Council at meetings conducted in accordance with the rules of disciplinary proceedings as provided by this Code.
If disciplinary proceedings are initiated against a lawyer, the latter’s notice of withdrawal from the Bar or notice of alteration of membership in a Chamber of Lawyers will be reviewed upon termination of the disciplinary proceedings.
3. Disciplinary proceedings must ensure a timely, objective and fair consideration of complaints, presentments and communications about lawyers, the resolution thereof in accordance with the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and this Code, and the enforcement of the judgment.
4. During disciplinary proceedings, measures must be taken to protect information containing private secrets of claimants, commercial and lawyer’s secrets, as well as measures to achieve reconciliation between the lawyer and the claimant.
5. Disciplinary proceedings may only be conducted by the Qualifications Commission and the Bar Council of the Chamber of Lawyers which the lawyer is a member of at the time of initiation of disciplinary proceedings.
6. Upon the initiation of disciplinary proceedings, the individuals, agencies and organizations to file the relevant complaints, presentments and communications, the lawyer against whom the disciplinary proceedings are initiated, and representatives of the specified individuals, agencies and organizations are deemed as participants in disciplinary proceedings.
7. Withdrawal of complaints, presentments and communications or reconciliation of the lawyer with the claimant formalized in writing, may be effected before the Bar Council passes a judgment and will result in the termination of disciplinary proceedings. No repeated disciplinary proceedings on the same subject-matter and grounds may be initiated.
1. Disciplinary proceedings may be initiated on the account of:
2. Complaints, presentments and communications are deemed as admissible grounds for
initiating disciplinary proceedings, if submitted in writing, complete with:
3. Each and every participant in disciplinary proceedings may propose, verbally or in writing, a way of resolving the disciplinary case. The party seeking disciplinary sanctions against a lawyer must describe specific actions (or lack of those), whereby the lawyer has violated his/her professional duties.
4. Complaints, presentments and communications that are not specified in part 1 hereof, or complaints, presentments and communications filed by the aforementioned persons in respect of actions (or lack of those) of lawyers (including the heads of associations (colleges) of lawyers) that are unrelated to their professional duties cannot be recognized as acceptable grounds for initiating disciplinary proceedings.
5. Complaints or statements filed by other lawyers or colleges of lawyers cannot be deemed acceptable grounds for initiating disciplinary proceedings, if such complaints or statements ensue from relations pertaining to the establishment or operation of respective colleges of lawyers.
6. Anonymous complaints and statements about lawyers’ conduct (failure to act) are not subject for consideration.
1. President of the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation will initiate disciplinary proceedings within ten days of receipt of the documents specified in part 1 of Article 20 of this Code. Participants in disciplinary proceedings will be notified well in advance about the venue and time of the hearings to be conducted by the Qualifications Commission; they will be able to familiarize themselves with all the case records.
2. Upon receiving complaints or statements which cannot be deemed as acceptable grounds for initiating disciplinary proceedings or which were filed by persons unauthorized to raise the issue of disciplinary proceedings, or in the event of discovering facts that exclude the possibility of disciplinary proceedings, President of the Chamber of Lawyers will dismiss the suit, will return the documents to the claimant, explaining in writing the reasons for the judgment, and, if the claimant is a natural person, will explain to the latter the procedure for contesting the judgment.
3. The following circumstances exclude the possibility of disciplinary proceedings:
Disciplinary proceedings include the following stages:
1. The disciplinary case referred to the Qualifications Commission of the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation must be reviewed within two months, exclusive of the time when the disciplinary proceedings may be adjourned on the grounds deemed legitimate by the Qualifications Commission.
The Qualifications Commission of the Chamber of Lawyers of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation reviews the case orally in line with the principles of adversarial nature and of equality of participants in disciplinary proceedings.
Before the hearings commence, all members of the Qualifications Commission are instructed about non-disclosure and protection of information revealed in the course of the hearings, which may contain private secrets of the parties, as well as commercial, lawyer’s and other secrets.
2. The Qualifications Commission must give its opinion regarding the disciplinary case on the day it reviews the case on its merits by way of direct examination of evidence presented by the parties before the hearings and of their testimony during the hearings.
Copies of written evidence or documents that participants in disciplinary proceedings intend to present to the Qualifications Commission, must be submitted to the Commission Secretary not later that two days before the hearings. The Qualifications Commission may admit additional evidence from participants in disciplinary proceedings during the hearings, if such evidence could not be submitted earlier. In this case and subject to the request of participants in disciplinary proceedings, the Qualifications Commission may adjourn the hearings to examine the newly admitted evidence.
3. Non-appearance of any participant in disciplinary proceedings will not constitute the grounds for postponing the hearings. In this case, the Qualifications Commission will review the merits of the case as presented by available evidence and hear out the attending participants.
4. The Qualifications Commission will review the case within the limits of the claims and on the grounds indicated in the relevant complaint, presentment or communication. The subjectmatter of and/or the grounds for the complaint may not be changed.
5. Upon initiation of disciplinary proceedings, participants therein have the right to:
6. If so requested by participants in disciplinary proceedings, the Qualifications Commission may request for such additional information and documents as participants may refer to in their arguments.
7. The lawyer, acting as respondent in disciplinary proceedings, may take measures to reach conciliation with the claimant before the Bar Council passes a judgment. The lawyer and his/her representative are the last to present explanations to the Qualifications Commission.
8. The Qualifications Commission must adopt a decision on the merits of the case, unless the statute of limitations for disciplinary proceedings established in Article 18 of this Code has expired.
9. On the basis of its findings in the course of disciplinary hearings, the Qualifications Commission may conclude that:
10. The Qualifications Commission will always review disciplinary cases in camera. The hearings procedure is determined by the Qualifications Commission and will be communicated to all participants in disciplinary proceedings. The hearings are conducted by the Chair of the Qualifications Commission (or by Deputy Chair appointed by the Chair from the Commission members), who keeps order during the hearings. Those who disrupt order may be barred from the hearings by the decision of the Qualifications Commission. Participants in disciplinary proceedings may attend the reading of the opinion of the Qualifications Commission.
11. The hearings are recorded in the minutes, which capture all the material aspects of the case reviewed and the final opinion of the Qualifications Commission. The minutes are signed by the Chair and Secretary of the Qualifications Commission. Where necessary, the Qualifications Commission may have the audio record of the hearings made, which will be attached to the minutes.
12. The Commission’s opinion on the merits of a case is determined by vote with personal ballots, the format of which is approved by the Bar Council. The question list put to the vote is formulated by the Chair of the Qualifications Commission or by Deputy Chair appointed by the Chair. The personal voting ballots of the Commission’s members are attached to the minutes of the hearings and constitute an integral part thereof.
13. Within ten days, certified copies of the opinion of the Qualifications Commission may be issued (sent) to participants in disciplinary proceedings at their request.
14. The opinion of the Qualifications Commission must be motivated and adequately substantiated; it must contain a title, a narrative of alleged facts, a statement of reasons, and the final resolution.
The title will state the date, time and venue of the decision, the name of the Commission adopting the decision, the Commission members, the participants in disciplinary proceedings, and the grounds for the initiation of such proceedings.
The narrative part will describe the subject-matter of complaint, presentment or communication, complete with the lawyer’s explanations.
The statement of reasons must contain the actual facts as established by the Commission, the evidence underlying the Commission’s findings, the arguments used to refute allegations, and the rules of professional conduct of lawyers as provided by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and by this Code, whereby the Qualifications Commission was guided when adopting the decision.
The final resolution must contain one of the provisions set forth in part 9 hereof.
1. The disciplinary case referred to the Bar Council of the Chamber of Lawyers together with the opinion of the Qualifications Commission must be reviewed within two months of the date of the Commission’s decision, exclusive of the time when disciplinary proceedings may be adjourned on the grounds deemed legitimate by the Bar Council. Participants in disciplinary proceedings will be informed about the date, time and venue of the Bar Council’s meeting.
2. The Bar Council will review complaints, presentments and communications in accordance with its Rules of Procedure and with due account of the specifics described in this Section of the Code.
3. Within ten days of the decision adopted by the Qualifications Commission, participants in disciplinary proceedings may submit via the Commission’s Secretary to the Bar Council written objection to or approval of the Commission’s opinion.
4. The Bar Council may not review the Commission’s conclusions in the part pertaining to the facts confirmed thereby, or deem confirmed such facts as the Commission has not confirmed, or outstep the limits of the relevant complaint, presentment, communication, or the Commission’s opinion. No new evidence may be admitted into the case.
5. The Bar Council will review disciplinary cases in camera. Non-appearance of any participant in disciplinary proceedings will not hinder the proceedings or the adoption of a judgment. Participants in disciplinary proceedings have equal rights to argue for or against the opinion of the Qualifications Commission, and speak on the disciplinary sanctions proposed for the lawyer in question.
6. The Bar Council’s judgment must be motivated and contain references to the rules of professional conduct of lawyers as provided by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar and by this Code, which underpin the legal qualification of the lawyer’s conduct (failure to act).
7. With due account of the facts, the Bar Council must take measures to reconcile the lawyer and the claimant.
8. The decisions of the Bar Council regarding complaints, presentments or communications are adopted by vote. The resolutive part of the decision must be communicated to participants of disciplinary proceedings during the meeting immediately upon completion of the proceedings.
Within ten days, certified copies of the decision may be issued (sent) to participants in disciplinary proceedings at their request. If the decision involves disbarment, a copy thereof is handed (sent) either to the person to be disbarred or to his/her representative, with or without a relevant request.
1. In the course of disciplinary proceedings, The Bar Council may decide that:
2. The lawyer held liable for disciplinary sanctions may contest the decision of the Bar Council within three months of the day he learned or should have learned about the relevant decision.
1. Unless a lawyer is subjected to a new disciplinary sanction within one year of a prior disciplinary sanction, the lawyer is considered to have no disciplinary sanctions. The Bar Council may cancel a disciplinary sanction before the expiry of one year on its own initiative, or at the lawyer’s request, or at the request of the Chamber of Lawyers whereto the lawyer is affiliated.
2. Disciplinary case records will be kept in the archives of the Bar Council for three years from the dates of respective decisions. During this period participants in disciplinary proceedings may familiarize themselves with and copy extracts from the relevant records.
3. Upon the expiry of the specified period of time, disciplinary case records may be destroyed subject to the decision of the Bar Council.
4. Disclosure of disciplinary case records is forbidden.
This Code, complete with amendments and amplifications, will become effective upon adoption by the National Congress of Russian Lawyers.
"On the practice of law and the legal profession in the Russian Federation"
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