Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Russian Federation

On 10 December 2020, IRZ supported the 6th German-Russian legal forum organised by the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK) and the Russian Federal Bar Association (RFBA), which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme for the event was the “Limitations of critical statements by German and Russian lawyers in the fight for rights”. A total of around a hundred lawyers discussed the current situation in their profession. Dr. Frank Engelmann, a lawyer and President of the Brandenburg bar association, moderated the exchange of experiences.

BRAK expert lawyer, Otmar Kury, President of the board for professional law at the German Federal Bar Association in Hamburg, gave a lecture on “The rights of German lawyers to freedom of expression in the fight for rights” outlining the situation in Germany. He said that defamatory behaviour is irreconcilable with the status of lawyers and undermines their authority. Instead, lawyers should express and conduct themselves with politeness, tact and diligence. Otmar Kury covered the following main points during his lecture

  • moral criteria and traditions of lawyers in providing legal advice
  • concerns for the prestige of the profession
  • public trust in the legal profession
  • the authority of lawyers in legal counselling and in private lives as a moral duty

Michail Tolcheev, a lawyer and Vice-President of the RGBA in Moscow, and Nikolai Kipnis, a lawyer and member of the professional ethics committee of the RGBA in Moscow, gave lectures to present the Russian point of view. The participants also discussed the subject of “Limitations of critical and controversial opinions expressed by Russian lawyers on the justice system, public prosecutors and the public”. The online format made it possible to hold extensive talks following on from the experts’ lectures, discussing the many questions asked by the audience in depth.

The lawyers participating in the forum showed a great deal of interest in the exchange of experiences and expressed a wish to continue this series of events. After all, the independence of lawyers in general, and their freedom of speech in particular, are essential for them to practice the rule of law.