The speakers of the discussion were advocates Tigran Atanesyan, Yervand Varosyan, and Hovhannes Chamsaryan.
To begin with, the advocates noted that their criticism addressed to the Chamber of Advocates had no personal character but it revealed the systemic problems of the activity of the Chamber. The speakers consider the biggest problem to be the lack of checks and balances mechanism as a result of which the Chairman and the Board of the Chamber make arbitrary and unjustified decisions about the advocates who do not agree with the position of Chamber's leadership.
“The Chamber Chairman has no body that can argue its decisions. The Board cannot do it either. I do not see the future of that Board. Whoever the Chairman of the Chamber is, the situation will be the same that is a fertile ground is established for the realization of a person’s complexes. The changes of individuals will not bring any results,” Tigran Atanesyan said, adding that by imposing disciplinary sanctions against him, the Chairman of the Chamber of Advocates tries to punish him for his activity and criticism.
Yervand Varosyan highlighted that they had no personal problems with the Chamber of Advocates and their leadership. But as a reply to their criticism, Ara Zohrabyan, Chairman of the Chamber, considers that they solve personal problems.
“Everything started from the election of Ara Zohrabyan as a Chairman of the Chamber, when we voted against inflating the staff list. We had no idea that the relatives of Ara Zohrabyan and his wife will be employed in the Chamber. Our vote was considered a personal insult,” Varosyan said adding that the climax of the conflict was their proposal while discussing the new law on advocacy.
“I proposed that the Board member cannot take any other position in the Chamber at the same time. It was the last point after which the lapidating started,” Varosyan said.
Hovhannes Chamsaryan also considers the most important issue to be the lack of checks and balances mechanism. That is why the advocates who criticize the Chamber activity cannot protect their right properly.
“I noted that in the previous Chamber some advocates raised issues subject of healthy criticism. And I saw that when advocates raise issues that differ from the Chairman's opinion, they are prosecuted. Many advocates are expressing indifference, it's their problem,” Chamsaryan said.
A New Union of Advocates or a Radical Reform.
Speakers offer solutions on how to eliminate the identified deficiencies and improve the functioning of the Chamber. According to Tigran Atanesyan, it is better to go back to the situation in 1998 when there was no Chamber of Advocates but there were several associations of Advocates. Atanesyan considers that period to be the revival of advocacy. The other option is to modify the Chamber completely.
“If we took the French model, it should be implemented to the end. There is no Chairman or Board with such powers. Chairman is just a representative office. Disciplinary proceedings are pending by the advocacy courts. The Chamber should be completely redesigned and the autocratic power should be removed. An easier way is to go back to the law of 1998 when 50 and more advocates could establish their union,” Atanesyan said.
Yervand Varosyan proposed two options of reforms due to which it will be possible to improve the environment and make the work of the Chamber of Advocates more efficient.
“First, the management model of the Chamber of Advocates should be changed completely. That is, the Chairman and Chamber should be separated from each other. The coalesced state will not lead to anything good. The second is to create new chambers with certain limits of course, some differences should be between them, the school's problem should be regulated, etc.,” Varosyan said.
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