Though the Law on Lawyers that took effect in early 2007 was meant to facilitate the practice of law, lawyers said at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City last week that they still face many difficulties in defending their clients.
To defend an accused, an attorney has to obtain a defense certificate, which the 2003 Criminal Procedure Code stipulates will be issued within three days.
But in practice, the lawyers said, they are unable to get it on time while its application procedures are tortuous.
HCMC lawyer Pham Quoc Hung said related agencies demand superfluous and personal documents, further complicating the process.
The code provides for lawyers meeting defendants in jail but again, in practice, it is not possible despite possessing a defense certificate, he complained.
He explained that police investigators do not want to accompany lawyers to jail, but without them prison wardens do not allow lawyers to meet their clients.
Some lawyers accused judges of not giving them enough opportunity to argue in court, thus affecting defendants’ interests.
Judges said for their part that they are not happy with the way lawyers handle trials.
Vu Phi Long, deputy presiding judge of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court, said many lawyers seemed embarrassed in court. In some cases, the lawyer and the defendant do not understand each other that they contradict each other.
Some lawyers do not fully discharge their responsibility of defending their clients, he said, pointing to instances in which the accused had the right to appeal but their lawyers did not make use of it.
To allow lawyers to practice freely and improve the judicial system, the city Department of Judiciary called for regulations to be amended in line with the Law on Lawyers.