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Venezuela: Access to the legal profession

Every person who has the necessary qualifications and integrity should be allowed to practice as a lawyer. No discrimination is permitted on grounds of race, colour, sex, ethnic origin, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, economic or other status with regard to entry into the profession or continued practice. The prohibition of discrimination does not however necessarily preclude a requirement that a candidate lawyer must be a national of the country concerned.[1]

States should take special measures to provide opportunities and ensure needs-appropriate training for candidates from groups whose needs for legal services are generally not met, particularly when those groups have distinct cultures, traditions or languages or have been the victims of discrimination.[2] 

The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has recommended that “all aspects of the lawyers’ career be regulated by the bar association”,[3] which in turn must be independent (see below). 

Independence of the legal profession both implies and includes security for lawyers, their clients and justice. For lawyers, this regularly means being granted a license that establishes their credentials and gives them the privilege to practice law. Licensure is a means of ensuring the quality and integrity of lawyers. At the same time, being part of a licensed profession provides lawyers with special protection, applying particular safeguards to the exercise of their professional activities, thus contributing to their independent functioning. It thus also serves to protect and assure those who call upon lawyers for legal services and enhances the quality of the administration of justice.

 

Bar Associations in Venezuela are corporations with legal personality, territorially organized in the Departments of the country and united under the Federation of Bar Associations (see subsection 3).

Under the Law of Lawyers, membership of a professional association and inscription to the Institute of Social Security for Lawyers (INPREABOGADO in Spanish) are mandatory conditions[4] for accessing the legal profession in Venezuela. The requirements needed to become a member of a Bar Association are:

  • Present a valid law degree;
  • Be registered in INPREABOGADO;
  • Pay the required fees; and,
  • Take an oath before the Executive Board of the Bar Association.[5]

The Bar Associations in Venezuela do not have the power to otherwise regulate their membership and affiliation of the associations. There are no procedures for verifying that the person requesting the membership complies with the qualification and integrity requirements necessary to be allowed to practice the legal profession.

The Bar Association must register all individuals who meet these requirements. There is no additional bar or ethics exam.

Once a member of one of the Bar Associations and registered in the Lawyers’ Registration Book, lawyers may legally practice their profession anywhere in the territory of Venezuela.[6]

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 1. UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, ”Principle

    Governments, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions shall ensure that there is no discrimination against a person with respect to entry into or continued practice within the legal profession on the grounds of race, colour, sex, ethnic origin, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, economic or other status, except that a requirement, that a lawyer must be a national of the country concerned, shall not be considered discriminatory.

    Draft Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice (also known as the Singhvi Declaration), ”Article

    Legal education and entry into the legal profession shall be open to all persons with requisite qualifications and no one shall be denied such opportunity by reason of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national, linguistic or social origin, property, income, birth or status.

    and ”80;”

    Every person having the necessary qualifications, integrity and good character shall be entitled to become a lawyer and to continue to practise as a lawyer without discrimination on the ground of race, colour, sex, religion or political or other opinion, national, linguistic, or social origin, property, income, birth or status or for having been convicted of an offence for exercising his internationally recognized civil or political rights. The conditions for the disbarment, disqualification or suspension of a lawyer shall, as far as practicably, be specified in the statutes, rules or precedents applicable to lawyers and others performing the functions of lawyers.

    International Bar Association (IBA), Standards for the Independence of the Legal Profession, ”Standard
    Every person having the necessary qualifications in law shall be entitled to become a lawyer and to continue in practice without discrimination.

  2. 2. UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, ”Principle
    In countries where there exist groups, communities or regions whose needs for legal services are not met, particularly where such groups have distinct cultures, traditions or languages or have been the victims of past discrimination, Governments, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions should take special measures to provide opportunities for candidates from these groups to enter the legal profession and should ensure that they receive training appropriate to the needs of their groups.
  3. 3. Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Report on mission to Turkey, UN Doc. A/HRC/20/19/Add.3 (2012), ”para.

    The Special Rapporteur further notes with concern that the activities of lawyers are controlled by the Ministry of Justice, which deals with lawyers’ registration and disciplinary actions. It is recommendable that all aspects of the lawyers’ career be regulated by the bar association.

    See also Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on Belarus, UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.86 (1997), ”para.

    The Committee also notes with concern the adoption of the Presidential Decree on the Activities of Lawyers and Notaries of 3 May 1997, which gives competence to the Ministry of Justice for licensing lawyers and obliges them, in order to be able to practise, to be members of a centralized Collegium controlled by the Ministry, thus undermining the independence of lawyers. In this regard:

    The Committee stresses that the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession is essential for a sound administration of justice and for the maintenance of democracy and the rule of law. The Committee urges the State party to take all appropriate measures, including review of the Constitution and the laws, in order to ensure that judges and lawyers are independent of any political or other external pressure.  The attention of the State party is drawn in this connection to the 1985 Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the 1990 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

  4. 4. In contrast to the situation for judges, who are prohibited from forming professional associations. Constitution, Article 256.

    In order to guarantee impartiality and independence in the exercise of their official functions, magistrates, judges, prosecutors in the Office of Public Prosecutions and public defenders, from the date of their appointment until they leave office, shall not be permitted, otherwise than by exercising their right to vote, to engage in partisan political, professional association, trade union or similar activism; nor to engage in private activities for profit which are incompatible with their official functions, either directly or through any interposed person; nor to perform any other public functions, with the exception of educational activities.

    Judges shall not be permitted to form associations among themselves.

  5. 5. Law of Lawyers, Article 8.
  6. 6. Law or Lawyers, Article 10.
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