YUST  /  Press-center  /  Analitics

Yury Pilipenko: “It is especially lamentable that the judicial authority is no longer an authority, and rarely judicial”.


- How would you describe the current state of the Russian advocacy?

- A short answer to this question would be: it causes pity and laughter.

First of all, one should note that the Russian advocacy, which is about to complete 150 years, is currently, in a sense, on the top of its development.

During the Soviet period, advocates were members of regional and territorial bar associations, and during the Imperial period – under court chambers. Our country’s advocates were not united under a single corporation until the adoption of the law on advocacy activity in 2002. Barristers started making the first steps on this trail as early as 1864, after the judicial reform, but the Soviet period interrupted the natural movement of advocacy toward independence and country-wide integration.

Another attempt was made by the end of the Soviet era. And the current level of independence of the advocacy from the executive authorities is extremely high, administrative pressure is a little above zero. Therefore, as far as the level of corporate organization, autonomy, independence goes, we are nowadays at the point of development of the Russian advocacy, which has never happened before, and in this sense we can rejoice at the current situation.

- But you mentioned crying…

- I did, because the high level of independence also has an opposite effect: it seems that we are being ignored. What exactly is independence nowadays? It may be defined like this: “Almost nothing depends from the advocates”. I can definitely say this in regard to the criminal proceedings, which can hardly be called competitive, I think. I believe that competitiveness in criminal proceedings in the Russian Federation has died without regaining senses, just like forensic science before it. It is lamentable that advocacy, through no will of its own, is turning into a stepchild of justice.

It is especially lamentable that the judicial authority is no longer and authority, and rarely judicial. Common law courts, especially during criminal proceedings, are horizontally integrated into the law enforcement system. Acquittals are extremely rare, over 90% requests by the defense are dismissed, and advocates are often threatened with criminal persecution for speaking during a trial. And everyone behaves as if such situation were normal and correct. Has someone been to a university anyway?

But the current situation in the judicial system is not a problem of the advocacy but of the society, of the country itself, it is unacceptable, it leads us to an institutional catastrophe. To compare: there is no way a person with liver cirrhosis or a gangrened right leg could fly into space.

Another sign of the ignoring is the amount of the fees paid to advocates of criminal defense by appointment. 298 roubles for one day of the trial is a beggar’s rate, which is completely out of correlation with the educational or professional level, that a defense attorney is required to have. We both understand that advocates will not put much effort into their assistance with such amount of the fees.

And one should keep in mind that over 70% of the advocates are daily involved into trials by appointment. Advocacy is not concentrated in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, most advocates reside in the regions, where there is no active economic life and almost no demand for advocacy services. This, by the way, is a good indication of the middle class number in the country. The defense attorneys there are forced to work in criminal trials by appointment, since people have no money and cannot afford to contract an advocate.

And it seems to that the problem is the following. Someone – consciously or not – distracts the Russian advocacy from other and more acute tasks and problems, which exist in the society as well as in justice, so that the advocacy would fight for 550 roubles instead of 298 roubles. If fight we must, we should fight either for a much more significant amount than 550 roubles, or for something different in principle, something important.

By the way, fresh news: it looks like the Ministry of Finance has discovered funds to raise the minimal rate to 425 roubles come July 1st. And I am sincerely grateful to those who helped the advocacy in this.

- And what are the problems that you consider the most important?


Full version of the publication is available here.

Back to list