Bearing in mind that the election of members of the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutors' Council from the rank of attorneys is imminent, in the new Brief Alert prEUgovor points out the dangers that the unresolved issue of conflicts of interest of attorneys who are members of judicial councils can lead to and provides recommendations for overcoming them.
In February 2021, the Serbian Bar Association published a list of candidates from the ranks of attorneys who were nominated for membership in the High Judicial Council (HJC) and the State Prosecutorial Council (SPC).
Attorneys who act as defence councils in certain active cases that have caused great anxiety among the citizens, are also among them. The National Assembly has yet to discuss the proposed candidates and decide on the election. The current chairman of the competent parliamentary committee is also an attorney and defence counsel in active cases, as well as an ex officio member of both judicial councils.
Coalition prEUgovor believes that the situation where attorneys continue to act as proxies in court and prosecutorial proceedings in parallel with their membership in the HJC and the SPC could seriously jeopardise the independence of judges and the autonomy of public prosecutors acting in these cases. The danger stems from the fact that members of the HJC and the SPC decide on the election of judges and prosecutors to a permanent judicial i.e. prosecutorial office, as well as on their disciplinary responsibility.
In this context, there is a pronounced need to determine the extent to which the rules for preventing and resolving conflicts of interest of these public officials are in fact adequate. Although this legal situation is not new, it has not been sufficiently regulated or researched. With this short analysis, the prEUgovor coalition is attempting to compensate for this shortcoming and offer possible solutions.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union, as part of the project “PrEUgovor Policy Watch: building alliances for stronger impact in uncertain future”. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the prEUgovor coalition and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.