The Russian Federation’s bar association and the Law Society have pledged their mutual commitment to the rule of law, human rights and access to justice in a memorandum of understanding signed this week.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck and president of the Russian Federation Chamber of Advocates, Evgeny Semenyako, signed the document in Moscow, during a Law Society trip to promote the reputation of English law in Russia, as part of English Law Week.
The memorandum is intended as a framework through which the two jurisdictions ‘deepen the mutual knowledge and understanding’ of their respective professions and ‘work together to help develop friendship and co-operation’, a statement said.
In particular, the signatories reaffirm their commitment to the rule of law, human rights and access to justice and to ensure that the legal profession, through ‘the highest standards of professionalism and client care’ continues to advance them.
On the provision of international legal services, the signatories pledge to ‘engage in ongoing and effective dialogue’ on the regulation of foreign lawyers in their respective jurisdictions, to share best practice, identify barriers and enhance mutual understanding.
The two associations will also endeavour to hold joint seminars or training events in Russia or England each year and undertake at least one visit to each other’s jurisdiction during the three-year life of the memorandum.
Fluck has already invited Semenyako to London for talks next year.
A Law Society spokesman said: ‘Signing this memorandum of understanding is a really important step for the Law Society and is a direct result of our ongoing engagement with Russia, most recently including a successful meeting between Nicholas Fluck and RFCA vice-president Dr Genri Reznik in September.’
English Law Week is bringing together around 150 legal professionals from Russia and the UK at the British embassy in Moscow.
Fluck said: ‘The UK is a major exporter of legal services and English law is the law of choice for business in many different jurisdictions.’
Fluck said Russia also provides business opportunities at home, with 60% of the work of Commercial Court in London last year involving Russian and other eastern European parties, even though the disputes the parties involved often had no connection with England.
He said: ‘The Law Society has been establishing and strengthening direct links with the relevant Russian authorities over the last few years, to ensure the best possible environment for foreign lawyers.
‘English Law Week is a chance for us to showcase the skills and expertise of our members in a key international legal market, and to help them build even more links with key stakeholders in the region.’
Rules governing practice rights and establishment are relatively relaxed in Russia and about a dozen English law firms, including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Norton Rose, have established or have an associated office in Moscow or St Petersburg, with others working on a ‘fly-in, fly-out’ basis.