Sunday, September 26, 2010

Can we have a Single Bar Association ?

For many years lawyers in Indonesia have been trying to establish a strong and powerful Bar Association which will have authority on every lawyers here and therefore gain more respect from the people as potential clients, the Police, Prosecutors, the Courts of Law as well as the government.

But unfortunately, those efforts have always been fruitless, because there were always some lawyers who, for their own reasons, do not seem to agree with the idea of a single Bar Association.
This can be seen from the shameful incidence that took place during swearing-in ceremony of new members of PERADI (Indonesian Bar Association) at a five star hotel in Jakarta last week.

In this regards, I would like to share an interesting post written by Rob Baiton, former English Editor of Indonesian law portal HukumOnline (below), on his blog : 

A Single Bar Association for Indonesia -- No Way!

Sometimes it is not the law in Indonesia that is the "ass" but the lawyers themselves!

I must add, I know a lot of Indonesian lawyers (maybe more than I will ever need to) and the thought of them standing toe-to-toe and slugging it out with their fellow lawyers is something I find mildly amusing. It brings a smile to my face for reasons I cannot properly explain, but just the thought of these upstanding citizens slugging it out....arghhhhhhhhhhh!

The law in Indonesia demands that there is a unified and single bar in Indonesia. This is designed to ensure that there is some degree of consistency and uniformity in the way that Indonesian advocates are certified and come to practice. After the enactment of the Advocates Law back in 2003, this is PERADI (Indonesian Bar Association). PERADI was set up in 2005.

PERADI is inherently infused with politics, some of them personal, and as such it was a no-brainer to expect that sooner or later, and probably sooner, that things would start to heat up around the fringes and then start to unravel, probably in increasingly ugly ways. And, they did. The reality was that the birthing of a new organisation from eight rival bar associations where those eight bar associations were not wound up and dissolved completely meant that simmering tension would remain.

A lot of what has transpired most recently is unbecoming for a professional bar association; it is an embarrassment to all involved. However, the events of today that has seemingly seen lawyers come to blows and the police get involved is a low-point that even some of the more seasoned lawyers might not have thought they would get to see. Some of the scenes were allegedly reminiscent of scenes more likely to be scene in a Taiwanese parliament than at an advocate swearing-in ceremony in a five-star hotel, the Gran Melia, in Jakarta.

Nevertheless, this is what happened when the more recently formed Indonesian Advocates Congress (KAI) turned up at the hotel to protest the swearing-in of the new PERADI advocates by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Indonesia. KAI believes that it is the legitimate organisation to represent the interests of Indonesian advocates. This is based on an argument that PERADI from its inception has been legally flawed. However, this would not seem to be the case in the strictest of legal senses because in a Constitution Court decision from 2006 the Court states that PERADI is the one.

It might be time for the KAI to either suck it up and get on with life under PERADI or continue to pursue ever-dwindling legal options to overturn the PERADI monopoly on certificating Indonesian advocates practicing in Indonesian courts. It is time that KAI recognised, whether it wants to or not, that the Supreme Court has issued a Circular which is explicit in stating that KAI affiliated lawyers cannot practice in court until they have satisfied the PERADI requirements for certification. This Circular was hotly contested by KAI, but it only resulted in a mediated deal that still requires the establishment of a single bar association by 2012.

It really does not matter what the single bar association is called; PERADI, KAI or AA (Advocates Anonymous -- AA considering it is a bar association). What matters is that a unified bar can be formed. This will require a commitment to disbanding all rival associations and congresses once a unified bar can be agreed to. This process is not going to be an easy one; too many personalities and too much politicking, but it has to be done.

In many respects, the future of the Indonesian legal system demands that there is stability and that there is uniformity in the certification process for lawyers. This is necessary, of for no other reason, to ensure the rights  of those who enter the Indonesian legal system to seek justice for themselves or those that they represent.

Two rival advocate associations coming to blows in a five-star hotel is an embarrassment on a grand scale. Shame on you all!

Shame, shame, shame.

(The photo is apparently from twitter and comes via here)


colson said...

Lawyers? Well, they are just human, too human. They, along doctors, already used to be the laughing stock in the age of Molière.

Yet this old fashioned tavern brawl in the year 2010? It definitely produced a great post, but shame, shame, shame, indeed.

tonino said...

lawyers around the world are the same, covet money.

H. Nizam said...

Of course lawyers are humans, i.e humans paid by fellow humans who expect them to do their utmost in defending the latter based on their expertise on the valid laws and regulations.
They are similar to doctors so they should belong to single association.
Doctors here belong to IDI i.e association of Indonesian doctors that has strong authority over doctors including malpractices.

You can say that.

julicavero said...

wow..nice posting bro...thx

H. Nizam said...

Thank you for your comment.

Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

You need a system that respects the law and lawyers need to do that too. It also comes down to credibility of your legal system and the lawyers as well. If lawyers can't meet the required standards expected of them they should debarred!

sawali tuhusetya said...

I am not a lawyer, but I really like to take this kind of information. thank you your share it!

TUKANG CoLoNG said...

SBA? hm..mungkin gag mungkin sih..:)

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...


I guess if one reads between the lines of my post these are some of the things that might come out of it. I should add that this was posted on my blog, so it amounts to a personal opinion and not that of any former employer :D (the dreaded disclaimer)

A single bar association is a good idea. It will provide stability and uniformity with respect to certification / licensing.

A single bar does not mean that there is not vigorous debate about what that bar association does or stands for, it just means that the basic procedures for ensuring all lawyers are suitably qualified to practice the law are met, across the board.

The suck it up part really refers only to the idea that the courts, like it or not, seem to be leaning towards the idea that PERADI is the organisation that best fits the law as it stands.

Nah, KAI has a right to disagree with this, and then pursue the legal options available to it in order to test the validity of PERADI. But, once that process is done, then it is done...move on and get on with the more important jobs that are at hand. Like restoring the credibility of the legal profession as a whole in Indonesia.

Don't misinterpret that statement! ;) There are many, many excellent lawyers who operate well within the strict rules for professional practice. But there are always exceptions to the rule, and it is these lawyers that taint the whole. The very old and somewhat cliche: a bad apple spoils the bunch.

Once again, thanks for reposting this.

H. Nizam said...

In order to make lawyers always obey the laws and regulations, there should be a strong and unified bar association respected by the lawyers themselves and other parties.

I am glad that you like the post. Thank you for dropping by.

Demi perlindungan bagi masyarakat pengguna jasa pengacara, harusnya pengacara bernaung dibawah satu organisasi sperti para dokter dengan IDI.

You are welcome Rob. Thank you for allowing me to post your nice article here.
Please be understand that my purpose of mentioning your former employer is merely to introduce you to readers. And the fact that you have left the company and Indonesia show that what is mentioned in your post represent your own opinion and no one else.

Richa said...

Thank you for your comment in my blog

H. Nizam said...

You are welcome

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H. Nizam said...

Memang lebih enak ngeblog.