Maintenance of the Bengoshi System

Maintenance of the Bengoshi System, Part 1

Self-governing authority of Bengoshi

Lawyers do not only serve for the benefit of their own clients, but they are also entrusted with protecting human rights and promoting social justice through the handling of each of their cases. In order to accomplish this, the freedom and independence of lawyers must be ensured without yielding to other authorities. For this reason, the bar association is a self-governing body which is responsible for the qualification and registration procedures for its members, enactments of rules and procedures in connection with the structure and operation of the Association and disciplinary action against its members.

Discipline

Disciplinary action is enforced by the bar association in the event a lawyer or law corporation (i) violates the Lawyers Law or the rules of the lawyer's bar association, (ii) disturbs the order or credibility of the bar association, or (iii) engages in "misconduct that brings the legal profession into disrepute" during the discharge of the lawyer's duties or while off-duty. A petition for disciplinary action may be filed by anyone, and is not limited to clients, opposing counsel or other related persons. When a petition for disciplinary action is filed, the Discipline Maintenance Committee first performs a preliminary investigation. If such Committee determines that an examination is warranted, then a further examination will be made by the Disciplinary Action Committee, which in turn will make a decision as to whether to proceed with disciplinary action.

Types of Disciplinary Actions

  • 1) Reprimand: (Admonishment so that the Bengoshi will reflect on his or her conduct)
  • 2) Suspension from the practice of law for up to two years: (Prohibition from the practice of law)
  • 3) Dismissal: (Removal from the bar association. While such individuals are prohibited from practising law, they do not lose their qualifications as Bengoshi)
  • 4) Disbarment: (The lawyer's standing as a Bengoshi is lost, as are the lawyer's qualifications as a Bengoshi, for three years)

Maintenance of the Bengoshi System, Part 2

Municipal Contact Desk and Dispute Mediation Committee

The Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association established a municipal contact desk, which hears complaints and other comments from clients with respect to the activities of lawyers. In addition, a Dispute Mediation Committee was established for the purpose of regulating and resolving issues between lawyers and clients. This committee hears from both sides of a dispute and then examines the case from a fair and impartial standpoint to resolve the dispute.

Training in Ethics

At the bar association, training in ethics is provided periodically so that members will maintain a high level of professional conduct, and will act as Bengoshi capable of meeting the expectations and trust of the community. Attendance at such training sessions is mandatory for members.

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