Foreign lawyers in Kurdistan warned of action against “illegal” practice

A spokesperson purportedly connected to the Kurdistan Bar Association Council has confirmed that it will be pursuing international lawyers it believes are practising without a licence in the region.

The spokesperson’s comments follow recent reports that there was little appetite for such action against international lawyers.

In April The Lawyer reported that local lawyers in Erbil had banded together to complain to the Bar Association about international lawyers allegedly working in the region illegally (30 April 2012). The lawyers drew up a list of around 50 foreign lawyers and firms working in Erbil and asked the bar association to bring an action against them for practising without a licence, and also asked that local lawyers working with the international firms be penalised, too.

At the time, a source in the region said that they had spoken with someone at the bar association, who said it would not be pursuing the local lawyers’ claims.

Since then, however, The Lawyer has been contacted by someone claiming to represent the Kurdistan Bar Association Council, who said: “The Kurdish lawyers’ claims are right and legal, according to the Kurdistan Law of the Legal Profession No.(17) of 1999 amended, the foreign lawyers and law firms are absolutely not allowed to practise the legal profession in Kurdistan region. And the Kurdistan Bar will take the strict actions soon against the violators.”

Responding to requests for further comment, Kurdistan Bar Association president Wrea Sadi Ahmed said: “The Kurdistan region is booming, especially after the enactment of the investment law and the encouragement of the foreign investors, which has led to [a large increase in the] number of foreign companies. As a result of this a group of lawyers from UK, USA, Lebanon and Turkey will practise the legal profession in Kurdistan region and provide legal consultations, which is, as we stated before, a clear violation of the law of the Legal Profession No. (17) of 1999. And the provisions of the law says these kind of procedures could only be done through the reciprocity system. How the lawyers of Kurdistan region are allowed to practice their legal profession in the foreign countries, we use the same criteria to deal with the foreign lawyers in our region and vice-versa.

“In the light of this the KBA has a number of documents in hand in order to start the action against those foreign lawyers and foreign law firms who practice the legal profession and provide legal consultation in KRG. Further, the available foreign law-firms in KRG are trying to use a trick to practise the legal profession through the local lawyers as a front and do their works tacitly.

“Therefore, as the Kurdistan Bar we will take the utmost and strict actions against them and request the moral and material compensations before the court. We will never bargain on this issue and we [are working] to collect documents to strengthen our [case].”