Multiple bar law takes effect as decision gets published in Official Gazette

Multiple bar law takes effect as decision gets published in Official Gazette

Multiple bar law takes effect as decision gets published in Official Gazette

A disputed bill allowing Turkey’s bar associations to split into smaller groups was published in the Official Gazette and entered into force on July 15.

The amendment contains changes in the Lawyers’ Act and some other laws that regulate the duties of the lawyers and the formation of the bar associations.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers backed the bill, while all other opposition parties opposed it.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced it would challenge the bill at Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

Bar associations law undermines Turkey's unity: CHP head
Bar associations law undermines Turkeys unity: CHP head

The objective behind the changes is to reduce the power and influence of three main bar associations, namely Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, with the formation of alternative associations.

Under the law, the bar associations that have more than 5,000 members can split into separate bar associations as long as they have at least 2,000 lawyers. Each bar association in respective provinces will be represented by three delegates and a president in the General Assembly of Turkey Bar Associations. Elections for bar associations would be held in the first week of September and in December for the General Assembly of the Turkey Bar Associations. They would be held every two years for the bars and every four years for the union.

The proposal will also amend the formation of the General Assembly of Turkey Bar Associations, the umbrella organization of all the provincial bar associations. With the arrangement, provincial associations will have an increased presence at the General Assembly, while the number of delegates sent by Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir will be reduced.

On June 20, bar chairs marched toward the capital Ankara to protest the proposal. The police, which blocked them from entering the city, said they did not have a permit and were violating social distancing rules amid the coronavirus outbreak. Later, the protesting lawyers were allowed to visit Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

As parliament debated the bill, hundreds of lawyers were gathered at a park in downtown Ankara to protest the changes. The bars say they will continue demonstrations throughout the assessment of the Constitutional Court over the amendment.