Kazakhstan legal services

The Lord Mayor’s visit to Kazakhstan is expected on 3-4 September 2014. This will be the fourth visit of its kind. Although the agenda has not been confirmed yet, it is not hard to predict what will be the underlying purpose of this visit. Most probably, it will focus on the further development of trade and investment opportunities between the UK and Kazakhstan, promotion of the UK financial and legal services, the UK Global Law Summit in 2015 due to the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and other related issues.

The visit is a wonderful opportunity to raise various burning issues in relation to the legal services in Kazakhstan. Perhaps we need to use this visit and learn from our English counterparts, the champions and global leaders in legal services. It goes without saying why English law is the the law of choice for international transactions and why London is the centre of choice for international dispute resolution. England is also an exporter of a world class legal services and legal education.

We need to ask ourselves, whether Kazakhstan has made any substantial and useful progress in relation to the development of its legal services since the collapse of the Soviet Union and, as such, its legal system. What can we put before the world?

One may argue that there have been lots of significant improvements such as the development of the legal framework for the legal profession including judges, advocates, local and international arbitrators, and for the legal services including courts and international arbitration, emerging of law firms on the market, formation of the Kazakhstan Bar Association, etc. However, has it really changed the quality of legal services, the attitude of the public to the legal profession and the perception of the rest of the world with regard to the Kazakhstan legal services and legal system as a whole? The answer is no. It is clear that more should be done. Improving the investment climate and creating the new opportunities for foreign investors is a great thing to do, however, in order to achieve these objectives there will need to be some more improvements, particularly in relation to the legal services in Kazakhstan, i.e. the facilitators of those developments.

In order to do this, there must be some clear goals for the legal services, which go beyond the narrow focus on establishing law firms and formation of the international arbitration. What might these goals be? Here are some suggestions:

  1. To ensure that the Kazakhstan legal services embrace the international standards;
  2. To show that Kazakhstan provides both high quality legal education and public legal education;
  3. To provide training for judges in order for them to have the understanding of judgecraft;
  4. To provide proper training for advocates, arbitrators, mediators and legal practitioners;
  5. To establish a legal framework for regulation of the legal profession;
  6. To introduce practicing certificates or licences for legal practitioners in order to maintain competition and quality of services;
  7. To establish a regulatory and a disciplinary body for the legal professionals and to make them accountable for their misconduct; and
  8. To invest in skills training, upgrading those skills, technology and information.

Perhaps, the government should take initiative and provide its support and effort. Many of those initiatives lack investments. Those in government may fairly say: ‘Why us? What about the market?’ The answer is that the market is clearly responsible for doing many of these things itself and improvement in the fields outlined above will translate into business opportunities and growth for the Kazakhstan economy both domestically and internationally as the legal services is a vital part of this. However, our national economy is heavily influenced by the state. After all, the legal services are an economic, financial, business, social and a political issue; therefore the role of the government can hardly be overestimated.

Kulzhan Mehrabi

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