What is the authority of the Ethics Commission?

The Ethics Commission is a body elected by the General Assembly of the Bar to review a filed complaint against a lawyer and make a decision on disciplinary liability of the lawyer. The Ethics Commission is independent and makes decisions based on the "Law of Georgia on Lawyers" and the Bar Code of Professional Ethics. While processing a case, the Ethics Commission is guided by the Rules on "Disciplinary Liabilities and Disciplinary Proceedings of Lawyers". The Ethics Commission consists of five disciplinary panels, and the panel consists of three members.

Who can file a complaint?

Any person who claims that his / her rights or interests have been infringed by a lawyer's action may file a complaint.

Against whom the complaint can be filed?

You can file a complaint against a current lawyer if you believe that he/she has violated professional conduct by his or her actions or inaction. At the same time, a lawyer must have committed a contested action within the scope of his or her legal practice.

What should I do before filing a complaint?

Before filing a complaint, we recommend that you try to find a solution to your problem by providing information and negotiating your claims directly with the lawyer or the senior partner of the law firm where the lawyer works.

What should you expect from the Ethics Commission?

• The Ethics Commission will thoroughly review your complaint and evaluate all relevant evidence you submit;
• You may be summoned to provide additional explanations or evidence that will facilitate the reviewing process of the case;
• You will be notified about the date and time of the meeting;
• You will receive the notification in a timely manner so that you have enough time to  prepare a case and appear in front of the Ethics Commission ;
• You can read the case materials, make copies of them, appeal for the dismissal, apply to the Ethics Commission on your motion, submit your own opinion on any issues raised during the proceedings;
• In the absence of evidence, the Ethics Commission may request evidence based on your motion;
• You will be kept informed of the stage of the case review during the proceedings;
• The Ethics Commission will make an objective and fair decision on which you will be informed and acopy of the reasoned decision will be sent to you.

What should you not expect from the Ethics Commission?

The Commission:

• does not provide legal advice and does not provide legal services to clients;

• does not consider complaints previously considered by the Ethics Commission if the complaint relates to the same parties and the same claim;

• does not consider the complaint which relates to an act of a lawyer that was not performed under the scope of the status of a lawyer, such as an employee of the organization, a lecturer, etc;

• does not consider the issues related to the return of remuneration paid to a lawyer or compensation for damages caused by a lawyer;

• does not take into account evidence obtained in violation of the law.

Are there any time limits?

The Ethics Commission cannot review a lawyer's actions if 5 years have elapsed since the fact.

How can I file a complaint?

You can fill out an online form to file a complaint. You can also file a complaint in writing, by submitting the hard copy to the Bar Association, by mail or by e-mail.

Contact info: Zubalashvilis str. No. 36, Tbilisi, 0108, ethics@gba.ge

If you do not use the online complaint form, you must include your name, address, and contact information (phone number, email). If you have a representative, indicate his / her name, address and contact information; you must indicate the name of the lawyer, as well as the address and contact information (telephone number, e-mail) of the lawyer if you are aware of the following information. Describe in detail the specific action of the lawyer that you are appealing.

Lastly, you must sign the complaint. Along with the complaint, you must provide copies of the evidence that corroborates the circumstances stated in the complaint. You may not submit the originals of the documents, but you will be asked to present them by the Ethics Commission if necessary.

Can I get a help with filing a complaint?

Yes. Lawyers of the Ethics Commission can help if you have any questions about complaints or review procedures.

Do I have to pay a fee to file a complaint?

Filing a complaint is free of charge.

What happens after the complaint has been filed?

Upon receipt of the complaint, the Chairperson of the Ethics Commission shall submit a complaint to the Procedural Collegium, which shall decide whether to initiate a disciplinary case against the lawyer, to dismiss it or to terminate proceedings.

Initially, the Procedural Panel will evaluate your complaint and will contact you by phone or in writing to schedule the meeting. At this meeting you will be given an opportunity to provide an explanation and additional evidence to corroborate the facts in the complaint. Disciplinary proceedings end in case of a decision to refuse the initiation of disciplinary proceedings or to terminate proceedings against a lawyer has been made. You will be informed of the decision of the procedural panel in writing.

If a disciplinary proceeding is initiated, the case will be referred to the Collegium.The meeting will be attended by you and the lawyer against whom the complaint was filed. During this session you will have the opportunity to present your position fully, to ask questions to witnesses, to provide written and other evidence, to petition the Collegium for additional materials, documents and information, and to request the interrogation of witnesses.

Will the confidentiality of the information provided by me be protected?

The disciplinary proceedings are confidential, as relevant information is known only to the parties to the complaint, although the decisions of the Ethics Commission are public. Members of the Ethics Commission and staff of the Ethics Commission are required to maintain the confidentiality of the information they have learned during the disciplinary proceedings.You should be aware that a copy of your complaint will also be read by the lawyer against whom you are filing the complaint. The purpose of this is to ensure that both parties have equal opportunities to fully represent and defend their position. The commission is obliged to inform the lawyer about the complaint and about who is the author of the complaint.

Can I terminate a filed complaint against the lawyer?

Yes. You can terminate a filed complaint in writing. If application on terminating the case is received, the Commission is entitled to end disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer.

Will I be held responsible for my complaint?

No. You have the full right to appeal to the Commission. However, remember that filing a complaint can change the lawyer's attitude towards you.To avoid problems, make sure the complaint is accurate, filed in good faith, and relates to the lawyer professionally and not personally.

How long does it take for my complaint to be considered?

Within 2 months after receiving the complaint, the Procedural Collegium will investigate and review the case files to decide whether there is sufficient basis for a disciplinary proceeding. If the Procedural Collegium decides to initiate case against a lawyer, the case will be referred to the Collegium, which shall decide, within 3 months, whether to impose or not a disciplinary liability upon the lawyer.

If the Collegium decides to dismiss or end proceedings, the proceedings on the case shall be completed within two months after the submission of the complaint.

The case review may require more time than indicated above in case of reasonable difficulties, illness related problems of the lawyer, the time required for collecting the evidence or other impeding factors that may lead to temporary suspension of the case.

In what cases does the procedural panel not initiate disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer?

The Procedural Collegium will not initiate a disciplinary proceedings if the complaint or notification, despite accuracy of information provided, does not provide grounds for imposing a disciplinary sanction or if there is no evidence against a lawyer that would serve as the bases for reasonable doubt of thr Collegium that a lawyer committed disciplinary misconduct.

What are the types of disciplinary liabilities for the lawyers?

Disciplinary liability consists of a disciplinary sanctions or disciplinary measures.

A) Disciplinary sanctions provided for by the law are:

 - Warning

 - Deprivation of the right to practice law for a period of 6 months to 3 years

- Termination of membership of the Georgian Bar Association

B) Disciplinary measures established by the law are:

- Issuing to a lawyer a private recommendation letter

- Termination of membership for the members of the Executive Board of the Georgian Bar Association, the Ethics Commission and the Audit Commission.

What happens if the decision on my complaint made by the Commission does not satisfy me?

Decisions of the Commission are final for the applicant parties. Only the lawyer himself/herself against whom the case was initiated has the right to appeal the decision on imposing disciplinary sanction/measure.

Who has the right to appeal the decision of the Ethics Commission?

The lawyer who was disciplined has the right to appeal the decision of the Ethics Commission. The lawyer shall appeal to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia within one month after the decision is made.

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