AKP presses on with ‘multiple bar associations bill’ despite intense protests from lawyers

The bill allowing multiple bar associations in a province has been widely criticized and protested by lawyers, who say that it would divide lawyers among political lines and damage rule of law eventually.

Despite the protests, the parliament has approved two articles of the “Law Proposal for the Amendment of the Attorney’s Act and Some Laws” prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

According to the two articles, attorneys can register at any of the bar associations in a province where there are more than one bar and trainee solicitors do their second six-month internship with a lawyer registered at the same bar association with them.

Under the law, bar associations that have more than 5,000 members can split into other bar associations as long as they have at least 2,000 lawyers, effectively allowing multiple bar associations in larger cities. Each bar association in the provinces will be represented by three delegates and a president in the General Assembly of Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB).

The danger with the law is that newly found bar associations can gather its members by political preferences. Eventually judges could screen ordinary people at the courts by looking at which bar association his/her lawyer is from and the decisions could be affected accordingly. The approval of the “multiple bar association bill ” will be a new hit to Turkey’s already ineffective, severely politicized judiciary system.