Lawyers in Montenegro today launched a strike, the first in the country’s history, to warn the government that it is necessary to exclude the profession from the Fiscalization Law.
Last week, after the last round of failed negotiations, the Ministry of Finance announced that there is no possibility to change the Law and that it must be equal for everyone.
“The state has done everything to facilitate the application of the law, and taking into account all previous activities as well as the fact that some of these taxpayers have already switched to this system, there are no justified and sustainable arguments or opportunities to change regulations to exclude this activity from these legal norms. We remind you that the project team for the application of electronic fiscalization has persistently and dedicatedly cooperated with the representatives of many activities and remains available for further support in the application of the law, “the ministry said in a statement.
The Steering Board of the Bar Association ordered all lawyers not to enter or stay in the premises of courts, prosecutor’s offices, police or state bodies on any grounds during the suspension of work. The president of the Bar Association, Zdravko Begović, said that the lawyers in large numbers supported “a justified decision to start a strike”.
Begović hopes that the Government of Montenegro will understand the gravity of the situation, that they will still manage to reach a joint solution in the talks, but also that the Government must show a certain dose of cooperation.
It is unbelievable, he says, that the law that regulates the control of companies that trade products and services can cover lawyers.
“They overlook the most important fact that we are defined by the Constitution as a category that provides free legal aid, that our compensation is partially or almost uncollectible,” Begović stated.
He also said that lawyers do not trade services and products, but provide legal assistance.
“We are aware of the gravity of the situation, but it was the only way to preserve the constitutionality, legality and independence of the legal profession. I hope that the representatives of the Government will understand the gravity of the situation and that we will still manage to reach a solution in the talks,” said Begović.
The government announced that they believe that the decision of the Board of Directors of the Bar Association is illegal because it does not contain a legal basis.
“The decision does not contain a provision of the Law on Advocacy or another law that provides for the authority of the Board of Directors or the Assembly of the Bar Association to make a binding decision on the general suspension of the provision of legal services. We point out that the legal basis for making such a decision does not exist in the legal system of Montenegro, as well as the institute called the suspension of legal aid. In the legal system of Montenegro, there is only a suspension of work in the form of a strike, which is regulated by the Law on Strike”, it is stated in the announcement.
The government pointed out that there are no grounds to threaten lawyers who do not go on strike to be expelled from the Chamber because it is their right not to agree to the strike. It is also added that the decision of the Board of Directors of the Bar Association violated the right to defence, which is regulated by Article 67 of the Criminal Code, as well as the right of the party to declare a revision, which is regulated by Article 89a of the Law on Civil Procedure.
“From all that, it unequivocally follows that the Board of Directors of the Bar Association went beyond the scope of its competencies and that it made a decision without foundation in the legal system of Montenegro. Therefore, we encourage lawyers who did not give their consent to the suspension of work, to continue with the regular performance of their activities, because all possible measures that would be taken by the Bar Association would be legally unfounded,” the statement reads.