BUJUMBURA June 3rd (ABP) – The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Daniel Gélase Ndabirabe, chaired on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Bujumbura, a plenary session to analyze and pass the bill revising the bylaw of the lawyer profession.
The Minister of Justice, Mrs. Domine Banyankimbona, represented the government to explain the bill under analysis and provide clarifications.
In her explanatory memorandum, Minister Banyankimbona indicated that the legal profession is currently governed by Law No. 1/014 of November 29, 2002 reforming the bylaw of the legal profession. With more than two decades of existence of the said law, she pointed out, it no longer fits with the realities of the moment, which makes it worth updating. She also indicated that since its entry into force, the phenomenon of globalization, the development of technologies, the reforms of higher education, Burundi’s membership of regional organizations as well as the proliferation of Bars have had an impact on the bylaw of the legal profession. Mrs. Banyankimbona illustrated that transition with a few examples, namely the transition from the LMD system (graduate, master, doctorate) to the BMD system (baccalaureate, master, doctorate), Burundi’s accession to the treaty establishing the East African community, the creation of an environment conducive to business as well as the development of information and communication technologies.
With regard to the main innovations, the Justice Minister cited the fact of adapting the law in relation to the BMD system in order to give a response that is best suited to the incessant demands of law graduates, from the various universities of Burundi, who want to embark on a career as a lawyer. She added that the in-force-law governing the profession of lawyer, in its article 7, only admits as intern holders who have at least a law degree from a Burundian university.
She also indicated that the career of a lawyer plays a key role in terms of the proper administration of justice. That is why the legal profession requires by its members remarkable moral and intellectual qualities. To respond to that concern, the bill proposes compulsory initial professional training before being admitted as a trainee lawyer.
The bill also envisages compulsory continuing professional training for all active lawyers in order to adapt their intellectual knowledge to the evolution of society and to science. The bill also establishes a mechanism for coordinating the Bars through the establishment of a National Bar Committee to deal with any disputes that may arise between lawyers from different Bars, since the law in force authorizes the creation of several Bars, she explained. She further pointed out that the integration of Burundi into the EAC and other regional groups requires that the cross-border mobility of lawyers be a reality, and the bill takes that fact into account.
MPs asked the Minister of Justice about the reasons that prevent lawyers from exercising other professions such as large-scale commerce. She replied that it is to have enough time to defend their clients since the legal profession is demanding. She added that it is a form of protection for lawyers against the external constraints linked to the practice of commerce.
With regard to the establishment of the professional society of lawyers, mentioned by the MPs, the Minister of Justice pointed out that the lawyers work in complementarity and that the establishment of that society seems impossible at the present time. After analysis and amendments, the draft law revising the bylaw of the legal profession was passed unanimously with 103 votes cast.