First Results of the Legal Services Exam: 18 Out of 133 Passed

On 1 January 2023, Law No. 213-Z of 14 October 2022 on Licensing came into force, establishing a new procedure for the regulation of licensed legal services and marking another stage of state intervention in legal activities.

The Ministry of Justice had previously stated that information about persons in respect of whom the Commission has decided to issue a certificate would be posted on the website of the Ministry of Justice. Therefore, we can conclude that the list of those who did not pass the exam won’t be published, which demonstrates the Ministry’s understanding of the role and function of this exam as a filtering mechanism for "wrong" lawyers and lack of desire to draw attention to the list of those who did not pass the filter.

Still, the Ministry of Justice does publish a list of those who received a certificate, i.e. have passed the exam. Accordingly, as lists of those who have been appointed to take the exam are available, it is possible to analyze how many still failed.

Numerically, the results can be presented as follows:

10.01.2023 - 44 called for examination, 4 passed

12.01.2023 - 44 called for examination, 6 passed

17.01.2023 - 45 called for examination, 8 passed

Meanwhile, the authorities are trying to convince lawyers otherwise: the exam is held in a "favorable environment" and "improves the image" of those who take it. Thus, an article recently appeared on the website of the Ministry of Justice in which lawyers who have passed the exam and received certificates share their (exclusively positive) impressions.

Lawyer Kateryna Kachytskaya: "Of course, with the introduction of the mandatory certification exam, the bar has been set very high for those wishing to obtain a certificate. This is evidenced by the high percentage of those who fail it. On the other hand, having passed the computer-based and oral examinations, the applicant confirms his or her high level of qualification, which is the guarantee of quality legal services in the future. [...] I had to take a week's leave to study the theory of certain legal branches, especially those I do not encounter in my everyday work: criminal law, administrative law. It is worth noting that many years of practical experience in civil or commercial law without additional theoretical training would also have been insufficient to successfully pass the certification".

Lawyer Yuliya Sushchenko: "I would like to note that both employees of the Ministry of Justice and members of the Commission have provided very favorable conditions for all applicants to pass the exam. Everything else depends on the degree of preparation of those who came to take the exam".

The examination in this case can be considered both an interference in the profession by a state body and a sanction for the lawyer's excessive "activity", although the decision to revoke the license will not look like a punishment for the civic position — rather for the alleged "incompetence" revealed in the course of the examination. It should be reminded that a similar 'exam' in the bar was not passed by PhDs, lawyers with various professional awards, and specialists widely known in Belarus and abroad.
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