The plenary session of the presidents of the Bar Associations of Greece, during today’s (Thursday) meeting, decided to propose to the 63 bar associations of the country, the extension of the nationwide abstinence of lawyers until 19.01.2024, claiming the satisfaction of the standing demands of the legal profession.

Furthermore, the plenary decided to suspend the abstention regarding legal aid, self-administrative, union, etc. trials for which abstention had been decided until January 5.

The decision-proposal of the plenary will be put to the judgment of the administrations of the country’s bar associations, who will decide whether or not to follow the decision of the plenary. Furthermore, the plenary, according to its announcement, decided that “despite any improvements allegedly made to the provisions of the draft law under consultation on the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, it considers that these improvements do not change the philosophy of the bill, nor its basic provisions that shrink fundamental guarantees and rights of the accused, violating the principles of fair trial of the ECHR, increase legal uncertainty and create unforgiving and unenforceable situations”.

Also, the plenary expressed its categorical opposition to the abolition of any court of appeal or court of first instance in the country, while it considers that the government’s announcements on the transfer of judicial matters to lawyers and the immediate establishment of a committee to reform the Lawyers’ Code are moving in the right direction.

Specifically, the announcement of the plenary is as follows:

“During today’s meeting of the Plenary of the Presidents of the Bar Associations of the country, the Minister of Justice Georgios Floridis and the Deputy Minister Ioannis Bougas were present, who referred to the Ministry’s promoted interventions in the process of awarding Justice.

The Plenary considers positive the announcement of the transfer of judicial matter to lawyers and the immediate establishment of a Committee for the reform of the Code of Lawyers and expects the immediate implementation of the Minister’s announcements and commitments.

The Plenary, despite any improvements allegedly made to the provisions of the draft law under consultation on the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, considers that these improvements do not change the philosophy of the bill, nor its basic provisions that shrink fundamental guarantees and rights of the accused, violating the principles of fair trial of the ECHR, increase legal uncertainty and create unforgiving and unenforceable situations.

Regarding the country’s judicial map, the Plenary is categorically against the abolition of any Court of Appeal or Court of First Instance of the Country, as they operate until today, and regarding the merger of the Magistrates’ Courts, it considers that a substantial dialogue is required in order to deal with the problems that will arise, taking into account the effective and unobstructed exercise of citizens’ right to judicial protection.

In any case, the operation of the existing Court of First Instance is not understood without the operation of the Three-member Court of Misdemeanors, multi-member compositions and MOD.

In addition to the above, the Plenary points out that long-standing demands of the legal profession have not been satisfied, such as the request for a reduction of VAT on judicial services, the extension of VAT exemption for incomes up to 25,000 euros – the only memorandum obligation that was not implemented – and the abolition of the court stamp fee in the recognition proceedings of the multi-member Court of First Instance, while the deregulation of legal fees in the private sector, law firms and law firms, the invalidation of the fees of salaried lawyers and the non-replenishment of the OAED account remains in place.

Additionally, no care has been taken to protect vulnerable borrowers.

Following these, the Plenary decides to propose the continuation of the mobilizations claiming the satisfaction of the standing demands of the legal profession, namely:

1. Financial matters

1. The reinstatement of mandatory representation in contracts

2. The increase in the exemption limit from the VAT regime for incomes up to 25,000 euros

3. The reduction of judicial VAT

4. The complete abolition of the pretense fee

5. The revaluation of the reference amount of pre-collection letters

6. The abolition of the unemployment contribution of 120 euros in favor of OAED

7. The increase in the fees of the State’s salaried lawyers

8. The abolition of the court stamp fee in the recognition proceedings of the multi-member Court of First Instance

2. Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure

The radical reformation of the draft law, according to the proposals of the Plenary.

3. Judicial map

The preservation of the existing Courts of First Instance and Courts of Appeal of the Country, as they are today.

4. Claims management companies – Funds – Banks – Vulnerable borrowers

First home protection for vulnerable borrowers. Application of the Code of Ethics by the debt collection companies. Removal of abusive behaviors. Respect for Lawyers and borrowers. Removal of the non-seizure of the funds and the 10% advance payment for the suspension of the auction.

In this context, the Plenary decided:

1. To propose to the Boards of Directors of the Bar Associations of the Country the abstention of their members:

– From all criminal trials, except for those arising from interruption and in which the examination of the first witness has already begun.

– From the issuance of Payment Orders and enforcement actions, Banks and funds.

– From lawsuits involving the interests of the Greek State, NPDD, NPID, public sector except OTAs.

2. To propose to the Boards of Directors of the Bar Associations of the Country the extension of the abstention of their members from trials under article 187 of the Civil Code until 31.1.2024, in accordance with the current framework, and its suspension, when and if the relevant provision submitted to the draft law to amend the Criminal Codes.

3. To propose to the Boards of Directors of the Bar Associations of the Country, the suspension of the abstention of their members from Legal Aid trials, pending the passing of the announced provision for the liquidation and payment of all due compensations.

Also, to propose the suspension of the decision of the Plenary on abstaining from felonies after the second interruption for three months from the publication of the law in the Official Gazette, if the provision of article 349 of the CPC is passed as it is.

The following is suggested as a framework for abstinence:

Licenses will be granted exclusively to:

* In cases of limitations and amortization periods, including procedural ones.

* In criminal cases, for misdemeanors completed six (6) years in the first degree and seven (7) years in the second degree and in felonies completed fifteen (15) years in the first degree and eighteen (18) years in the second degree.

* In criminal trials of the second degree with a prisoner, as a result of a first instance conviction.

* In cases of temporary detainees, in view of completing temporary detention. Completed ten months in case of twelve months and fifteen months in case of eighteen months.

* In self-service and escorts.

Regarding Postponements:

* For the convenience of the colleagues, it is allowed to appear before the courts to submit a postponement request, with the obligation, in the event of non-appearance of the opposing side, to proceed without delay and by any suitable means to inform the absent colleague of the date of the new trial.

It is noted that the framework of abstention must be applied, whether there is an obligation to issue a letter of pre-collection of contributions, or there is an exemption from this obligation as referred to in article 61 par. 3 of the Lawyers Code, such as, among others, the cases representing the public, OTA, Social Security Organizations and Legal Entities under Public Law with a fixed remuneration contract or representing beneficiaries of Legal Aid and Beneficial Pension.

The duration of the mobilizations is set until 19.1.2024

The Plenary will be convened again on Friday 19.1.2024 in order to review the position of the body, depending on the developments”.