AllAboutLaw Blog: the persecution of legal professionals in Turkey, the golden visa scheme and more

In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw blog, we look at how the persecution of legal professionals in Turkey is impacting its citizens, the controversy of the golden visa scheme and the potential loss of jobs for UK lawyers specialised in EU law following a no-deal Brexit.

  • Last updated Jul 24, 2019 9:34:26 AM
  • Tuula Petersen
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Turkish citizens are left defenceless following the persecution of thousands of legal professionals

Trust in Turkish domestic courts is at an all-time low, with citizens referring to the European Court of Human Rights rather than their domestic courts. The Law Society president Simon Davis claims these issues can be traced back to the failed coup in 2016, when a section of the Turkish military tried to topple the government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In order to clamp down on any further unrest, Turkish courts placed tens of thousands of suspects under arrest on charges linked to the failed coup.

Three years later, the arrests have not slowed down, with hundreds of judges, prosecutors and lawyers detained and convicted on charges of terrorism. In response to these persecutions, the Law Society has coordinated a submission to the UN Human Rights Council to stress the urgency of the situation and formalise a call for action. 

The Law Society claims legal professionals are being held as suspects without any credible evidence against them, and those who are still authorised to practise have reported intimidation and threats. 

Most recent reports allege 4,260 judges and prosecutors and 1,546 lawyers have been prosecuted, and among these, 945 have been convicted on terrorism charges since July 2016.

Citizens have reacted to this threatening situation by submitting their claims to the European Court of Human Rights rather than their domestic courts. However, the European Court only takes on cases once every domestic remedy has been exhausted. Since the Court has not yet recognised the lack of domestic remedies for Turkish citizens, they are being referred back to Turkish courts.

Simon Davis has stated: “Turkey must protect the independence of lawyers, judges and prosecutors—in legislation and practice—so that they can perform their professional duties without intimidation and improper interference.”

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In response to a student asking for advice, US Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch writes: 

“My advice to law students is very simple, work hard, learn to write and speak effectively, never give up on your passions, treasure you family and friendships, find time to do public service and learn to win—or lose—graciously.

More than all of that, know that you will have many regrets in life—things said or done, or left unsaid or undone—but the one thing you will never regret is being kind.”

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Firm News

- Mishcon de Reya is considering a stock market float that could value the firm at several hundred million pounds.

- Hogan Lovells, DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie are among the law firms that have been named one of the “Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother.

- Pennington Manches merges with Thomas Cooper, an international firm with offices in London, Paris, Madrid, Piraeus, Singapore and Sao Paulo.

- Bird & Bird’s Aircraft Finance team have been highly noted in Airfinance Journal Legal Survey 2019.

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The controversy around the golden visa scheme

An investigation by The Times shows that wealthy individuals are able to secure a visa through the golden visa scheme, which requires them to invest £2 million in UK companies. 

Originally set up in 2008, the scheme was designed specifically to attract the super-rich to the UK. However, the investigation has found that corrupt individuals have been able to secure visas, including a member of the Gadaffi family, the son of a corrupt Thai government minister and an Egyptian charged with corruption.

Further, the £2 million investment in UK companies is unlikely to contribute to the UK economy, since visa advisers recommend moving the investment offshore to avoid tax once the individual acquires an indefinite leave to remain. The advisers stated there was no need to disclose the applicants' full history to the Home Office, going against the Home Office’s rules.

In response to the allegations, the involved firms, including Westkin Associates, a leading law based firm specialised in immigration, have stated they would have carried out due diligence checks in the following stages of the visa application.

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UK lawyers working in EU law at risk of losing their jobs

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK lawyers with careers in European Union law are at risk of losing their jobs because they would no longer be allowed to represent clients. The EU General Court warned the current certificate to practise law before a UK tribunal “would no longer fulfil the conditions” following a no-deal Brexit.

With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit remaining an option following the election of Boris Johnson as prime minister, lawyers are required to seek solutions in order to continue practising law in Brussels. These could include registering with the Brussels bar, taking local citizenship, or relocating to Ireland. 

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Further reading

1. In order to restrict the use of gagging clauses to cover up allegations of harassment, discrimination and assault, the government has proposed new laws to ban Non-Disclosure Agreements that stop people disclosing information to the police, doctors or lawyers.

2. Contrary to a court decision ruling the sale of weapons used in Yemen unlawful, the British government has invited Saudi Arabia to the world’s largest arms fair.

3. In line with her legal aspirations, Kim Kardashian seeks to help Kevin Keith, a convicted murderer with a life sentence without parole.

4. After an anti-extradition law march ended, hundreds of masked men assaulted protesters, journalists and residents in Hong Kong. The police were not present.

5. In response to an increase in drink-driving cases, the government will fund a study to investigate whether ‘alcolocks’ will improve road safety.

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