G7 bar leaders express support for the people of Ukraine and highlight the importance of an independent legal profession
Ahead of the G7 summit of heads of governments in Japan in July, Law Society president Lubna Shuja met with other G7 bar and law society leaders in Tokyo on 29 April to sign resolutions on the war in Ukraine and lawyer-client confidentiality, reiterating concerns raised during last year’s summit in Germany.
Resolution on the war in Ukraine
Egregious attack on the rule of law
Our joint resolution with the other G7 bars (including Japan, France, Germany, the US, Canada, Italy and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)) condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an egregious, unlawful attack undermining the rule of law in the region and internationally”.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine also represent a direct breach of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other binding international agreements.
All acts constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine should be judged and prosecuted in accordance with accepted standards of international law.
Standing with the Ukrainian legal profession
The resolution expresses our aim to support members of the Ukrainian legal profession "in seeking to uphold the rule of law, defend the fundamental rights of their clients and people... and secure the continued operation of the criminal and civil justice systems in Ukraine under the present circumstances”.
In addition, the resolution highlights that “it is essential even during an armed conflict to preserve the independence of lawyers, the judiciary and bar associations, and to oppose any efforts to interfere with lawyers’ ethical provision of legal advice [and] legal representation”.
Resolution on lawyer-client confidentiality
We also signed a resolution with the G7 bar presidents reaffirming that “lawyers must be able to exercise their profession without interference, intimidation or harassment” and acknowledging the “essential role that lawyers exercise in helping build and defend accessible, efficient and fair justice systems”.
The joint statement makes the following recommendations for our respective governments and regulators to consider before the G7 summit in July:
- ensure appropriate measures are taken to protect lawyer-client confidentiality, attorney-client privilege, professional secrecy and the right to effective assistance of counsel from any national or transnational laws or practices that could undermine these rights
- consider consulting with the G7 bar associations if proposals, including those from the government, threaten to violate or impair lawyer-client confidentiality, attorney-client privilege, professional secrecy professional privilege or the right to effective legal counsel
These recommendations follow a series of recent cases in which lawyers practising in certain jurisdictions have been unable to advise and represent clients effectively, due to laws and other instruments that undermine lawyer-client confidentiality, attorney-client privilege and professional secrecy.
Find out more about our recent work to support lawyers around the world who are unable to practise their profession independently.
G7 bar associations
- Japan Federation of Bar Associations
- American Bar Association
- Canadian Bar Association
- Conseil National des Barreaux
- Consiglio Nazionale Forense
- Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe
- Deutscher Anwaltverein
- Law Society of England and Wales