Code of Professional Ethics of Advocates

(adopted by the first All-Russian Congress of Advocates on January 31, 2003)


Article 2

1.This Code supplements the rules established by the Law on Advocacy and the Bar.

Article 4

1.In all circumstances an advocate must uphold professional honor and dignity.

2.The necessity of complying with the advocates’ rules of conduct arises from the fact of having been called to the Bar.

4.In a complicated ethical situation, an advocate may apply to the Council of the Bar Chamber for explanation, which he/she cannot be denied.


Article 5

1.Professional independence of an advocate, as well as the client’s confidence in the advocate’s integrity, honesty and good faith are the essential elements of trust in the advocate.

2.Advocates must avoid such actions (omissions) which may lead to a breach of trust.

3.A breach of trust is incompatible with the status of an advocate.


Article 6

1.No advocate can inspire trust unless he/she can keep professional secrets. Professional advocate’s secret (attorney-client privilege) secures the client’s immunity as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

2.Non-disclosure of professional secrets is an unconditional priority of the advocate’s professional activity. No time limit is set for the keeping of professional secrets.

3.No one but the client can relieve the advocate of the duty to keep professional secret. The client’s consent to terminate the attorney-client privilege should be expressed in a written form in the presence of the advocate under conditions excluding the influence of the advocate and third parties on the client.

4.The advocate may use without the client’s consent only such information imparted by the client as may be reasonably deemed necessary for supporting the advocate’s position in a civil dispute with such client or for defending himself/herself during disciplinary or criminal proceedings initiated against him/her.

5.The rules for keeping professional secret extend to:

– the fact of recourse to an advocate, including the names and corporate names of the clients;

– all evidence and documents collected by the advocate in the course of preparation for the case;

– the information obtained by the advocate from clients;

– the information about the client which became known to the advocate in the process of rendering legal aid;

– the content of legal advice offered directly to the client or designated for him;

– the entire advocate’s case file;

– the terms of the legal aid agreement, including cash settlements between the advocate and the client;

– any other information related to provision of legal aid by the advocate.

6.The advocate may not give testimony about facts that came to his/her knowledge in the course of performing his/her professional duties.

7.The advocate may not assign to a third party without a specific consent of the client the right to a pecuniary claim arising from the agreement with the client.

8.When rendering legal aid, the advocates who practise law jointly under a partnership agreement must be guided by the rule extending the non-disclosure duty to all partners.

9.To preserve professional secrets, the advocate must keep case records separately from the records or documents belonging to the client. Any records that pertain to the advocate’s case file or any advocate-client correspondence must be clearly and expressly marked as belonging to or coming from the advocate.

10.The non-disclosure rule also applies to the advocate’s assistants, probationers and other employees of collegia of advocates.

Advocate’s assistants and probationers as well as other employees of collegia of advocates shall be notified in writing of the duty to keep attorney-client privilge and shall sign a pledge of secrecy.


Article 7

1.An advocate will accept the commission to handle a case even if he/she may have doubts of a legal nature, which do not preclude a possibility of defending and advocating the client’s interests reasonably and in good faith.

2.Prevention of judicial disputes is an integral part of legal aid rendered by an advocate, therefore an advocate will take care to eliminate any obstacles that may hinder an amicable agreement.


Article 8

In performing professional duties, an advocate shall:

1) execute his/her official functions honestly, reasonably, in good faith, competently, in a principled manner and in due time; actively defend the clients’ rights, freedoms and interests by any means that are not prohibited by law, being guided by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, law and this Code; and

2) respect the rights, honor and dignity of the persons who apply for legal aid, clients, colleagues and other individuals; behave and dress in a manner befitting business conduct.

3) constantly improve his/her professional skills in a manner prescribed by the bodies of the advocatory self-government;

4) handle the advocate’s case file.


Article 9

1.An advocate may not:

1) act contrary to the client’s lawful interests, render legal aid to him/her being guided by considerations of personal gain, immoral interests or acting under external pressure;

2) take a position in the case which runs counter to the client’s position or act against the client’s will, save for the instances when the defense counsel is convinced that the defendant has made a false confession;

3) make public announcements that the client has been proved guilty, if the client insists on a non-guilty plea;

4) disclose without the client’s consent such information as the client may communicate to the advocate in the course of legal assistance, and make use of such information in his/her interests or in the interests of third persons;

5) knowingly accept more commissions for legal aid than can actually be executed;

6) impose legal aid on individuals and solicit clients by exploiting personal relations with officers of judicial and law enforcement agencies, by making promises of a favorable resolution of the client’s case, or by other disgraceful means;

7) make derogatory remarks in the course of judicial proceedings that would impair the honor and dignity of other participants in the trial, even in the event of tactless behavior of the latter;

8) use any means to acquire for personal gain such property or property rights as may be the subject-matter of a dispute in which the advocate participates as legal counsel;

9) render legal aid by appointment of the inquiry bodies, preliminary investigation bodies or court in violation of the procedure of provision of such aid established by the decision of the Board;

10) render legal aid in case of conflict of interests of the clients provided for by Article 11 of this Code.

3.An advocate further may not:

– engage in other forms of paid employment that may require his/her direct (personal) involvement in the sale of goods, performance of work or provision of services, save for scientific work, teaching profession, expert activity, consulting services (including in the bodies and agencies of the Federal Bar Chamber and bar chambers of constituent entities of the Russian Federation, as well as in the legal practices) and other creative activity;

– provide outside the scope of his/her activity as advocate legal services (legal aid), save for dispute settlement activity, inter alia, as mediator, arbitrator, and participation in charity projects of other civil society institutions which provide a gratuitous legal aid;

3.1. Cooperation with the bodies carrying out operative and investigative activity in the course of practising law is incompatible with the status of an advocate.

4.Performance of professional duties arising from accepted commissions must prevail over other activities of the advocate. Other activities that advocates may be engaged in cannot belittle the honor and dignity of the advocate or impair the authority of the Bar.


Article 10

1.In the legal profession, law and ethics must prevail over the client’s wishes. Advocates cannot comply with such wishes, requests or instructions of their clients as may lead to a violation of law or a breach of rules established by this Code.

2.An advocate may not give persons applying for legal aid or clients the promises of a favorable outcome of the case.

3.An advocate must not accept a commission that would impede the execution of a prior commission.

4.An advocate must not have debt commitments to the clients.

5.An advocate must not become too familiar with the clients.

6.Upon cancellation of a commission, an advocate must promptly return to the client all the original documents pertaining to the case, and the power of attorney, and upon cancellation or execution of the commission submit to the client the progress report upon his/her request.

7.When executing a commission, an advocate acts on the presumption that all of the documents and information provided by the client are authentic, so the advocate does not carry out any additional check thereof.

8.Where an advocate provides free legal aid in the instances specified by the effective legislation, or by appointment of an inquiry agency, or an investigation agency, or by a public prosecutor or court, the advocates’ duties do not differ from the duties he/she has when providing legal aid for a fee.

9.If, following the advocate’s acceptance of a commission, save for a commission to act as defense counsel in a criminal case during the pre-trial investigation and in a trial court, the circumstances are discovered under which the advocate had no right to accept that commission, the advocate must terminate the relevant agreement. In making the decision to terminate the agreement due to impossibility to execute the client’s commission, the advocate must, where possible, notify the client thereof in advance, so that the latter could retain another advocate.


Article 11

1.An advocate may not act as a consultant, defense counsel or legal representative to several conflicting parties in one and the same case; an advocate can only facilitate the reconciliation of such parties.

2.If, due to specific circumstances, it becomes necessary to provide legal aid to parties with conflicting interests, or in the event of a possible conflict of interests, advocates who jointly provide legal aid under a partnership agreement must obtain from all parties involved in the dispute permission to continue the execution of a commission and ensure equal conditions for the legal protection of such interests.


Article 12

When participating in judicial proceedings or representing interests of a client in the state government and local self-government bodies, an advocate must comply with the relevant rules of procedure, respect the court and other participants of the proceedings, monitor the observance of law in respect of the client, and, in the event of violations of the latter’s rights, file motions for correction of such violations.

When raising objections against actions (omission of actions) of judges or other participants of the proceedings, an advocate must act in a civil manner and in accordance with the law.


Article 13

1.Apart from the instances specified in the Law on Advocacy and the Bar, an advocate may not accept a commission from two or more persons to act as their defense counsel in the same criminal case, if:

1) such persons have conflicting interests;

2) such persons, without having a conflict of interests, take different stands regarding the same facts of the case; or

3) at least one of the defendants is a minor.

2.Having accepted, by appointment or by agreement, the commission to act as defense counsel in a criminal case, an advocate may not disengage himself/herself from this obligation, except as otherwise provided by the law, and must perform all of the duties of defense counsel, including, where necessary, the execution and the filing of an appeal against the court judgment regarding the defendant.

Having accepted, by appointment or by agreement, the commission to act as defense counsel at the stage of pre-trial investigation, an advocate may not refuse without legitimate reason to perform this duty during the trial.

3.The defense counsel must not, without reason, worsen the situation of other defendants. Any actions of the defense counsel against other defendants, whose interests contradict those of the defense counsel’s client, are only justified if otherwise the defense counsel cannot ensure in full the client’s defense.

4.The defense counsel must contest the court judgment:

1) at the defendant’s request;

2) if the court disagreed with the position of the defense counsel and (or) of the defendant and imposed a heavier sentence or a sentence for a more serious crime than requested by the defense counsel and (or) the defendant;

3) if there are grounds for reversing or changing the verdict in favor of the defendant;

The defendant’s refusal to appeal the verdict shall be fixed by way his written application to the advocate.


Article 14

1.If an advocate cannot, for good reason, appear in court or participate in investigative activities at a fixed time, or if an advocate intends to file a motion for changing the time of the hearings or investigative activities, he/she should accordingly notify the judge or the case investigator in advance, inform other advocates participating in the case, and agree with them on the time of the specified procedures.

2.An advocate may only interview the client’s procedural opponent, whose interests are represented by another advocate, with the consent or in the presence of the latter.

3.When making use of the right to vacation (rest and leisure), an advocate must take measures to secure the legitimate rights and interests of his/her client.


Article 15

1.An advocate will build relations with other advocates on the basis of mutual respect and observance of their professional rights.

2.An advocate must refrain from:

1) using such language as may denigrate the honor, dignity or professional reputation of another advocate;

2) making, in conversations with persons seeking legal assistance or with clients, defamatory remarks about another advocate, or criticizing the actions and legal advice of the advocate who has previously provided legal assistance to these persons;

3) discussing with persons seeking legal assistance or with clients the fairness of fees charged by other advocates.

3.No advocate may persuade persons wishing to retain another advocate to conclude an agreement on legal assistance between himself/herself and that person.

4.The advocate must inform the Bar Council about his/her acceptance of commission to handle a case against another advocate. If an advocate undertakes to represent the client in a dispute with another advocate, he/she must inform the colleague thereof and observing the client’s interests propose an amicable resolution of the dispute.

5.Relations among advocates must not affect the protection of interests of the parties to a dispute. Advocates may not forgo the interests of their clients for the sake of comradery or any other relationships.


Article 16

1.An advocate is entitled to receive due remuneration (fees) for the work performed, as well as compensation for such costs and expenses as may be incurred thereby.

2.The fee is determined by the agreement between the parties and may reflect the scope and complexity of a commission, the time required to execute the commission, the advocate’s expertise and competence, deadlines, the urgency of the commission, as well as other circumstances. The legal aid agreement may contain a provision about depositing cash by the client in the cash desk or transferring to the account of a legal practice (division) of funds as advance payments.

3.An advocate may include in the legal aid agreement such terms and conditions whereby the payment of the fee becomes contingent on the favourable outcome of the property dispute for the client.

3.1. An advocate may accept money by agreement as payment for legal aid paid for the client by third parties (with the knowledge of the client). In such situation the advocate is not obliged to check the relations between the client and the third party payer.

4.An advocate may, with the client’s consent, share the fee with the persons involved in the provision of legal aid.

5.An advocate may not accept from clients any property to secure the agreed fee.


Article 17

1.Information about an advocate or a collegium of advocates is admissible, unless it contains:

1) evaluation-based characteristics of an advocate;

2) third party opinions about the work of an advocate;

3) comparisons with other advocates or critical remarks about other advocates;

4) statements, hints or ambiguities, which may mislead potential clients or give them unjustified hope.

2.If an advocate (legal practice) learns about unauthorized distribution of information about his/her activities, which runs counter to these requirements, he/she must accordingly notify the Bar Council thereof.

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