Recently the president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) was interviewed by the CCBE. In the interview he mentions the problematic issues of the AML/CFT proposals by the European Commission. One of his main priorities will be that he wants to defend the principle of non-identification of lawyers with their clients:
Defending the principle of non-identification of lawyers with their clients
In 2022, the CCBE will also dedicate itself to defending the principle of non-identification of lawyers with their clients. This is an important priority for 2022 as recent events, at a European and international level, have given rise to situations whereby lawyers have been presented as enablers of illegal or unethical practices. This CCBE believes this is wholly unjustified. The CCBE and its member Bars and Law Societies are committed to the fight against any illegal activity, including money laundering and tax evasion. The CCBE is committed to playing an active part and has taken numerous proactive measures towards increasing awareness amongst the profession with practical examples of risks which our members should be aware of.
The legal profession is highly regulated at a national level in all EU Member States and the CCBE is united in its efforts to educate its membership regarding various risks and assist them with meeting their obligations. The legal profession is widely alert to the threat of illegal activity and will always support clear, workable and proportionate measures. However, the CCBE cannot agree with recent trends at an EU and international level which seek to introduce measures which impact on the very independence of the profession, including issues regarding self-regulation.
It is important to be clear that the CCBE and its member Bars and Law Societies do not, and never will, condone the actions of any lawyer who knowingly participates in any criminal activity of a client, whether relating to money laundering, tax evasion or any other criminal activity. However, recent proposals would have a serious impact on the legal profession and society at a wider level. It is important that the CCBE raises its voice to ensure that the risks and consequences of proposed measures are explained and understood.
Other priorities are environment and climate change and digitalisation of justice.