ADVERTISING ATTORNEYS AND NOTARIES IN THE LIGHT OF UKRAINE LEGISLATION
On the Consultant’s online consultation portal, a client’s question regarding the advertising of lawyer and notary services was posted. Due to the very blurred criteria of the lawfulness of such advertising, this article is dedicated to identifying and interpreting some of them.
First, let’s find out the question: “Is it legitimate to post statistics on cases involving the defender and customer feedback on his site?”
According to Art. 57 Law on Ethics of a Lawyer The lawyer can use all available social networks, forums on the Internet and other bodies to communicate through the Internet, but in this case he is obliged to abide by his professional duties, which are assigned to him in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation, decisions the Bar of Ukraine and the Bar Council of Ukraine.
According to Art. 1 of the Law of Ukraine “On Advertising” means any information about a person or product that is distributed in any form and by any means. In order to be considered advertising, such information must be designed to create or maintain awareness of the consumers of the advertising and their interest in the person or the product.
Thus, posting personal information on a lawyer’s website is advertising in this case in the sense of the Law of Ukraine “On Advertising”.
According to Art. 13 of these Rules does not prohibit a lawyer from promoting his professional activity, but only if this does not violate the legal requirements. Advocacy promotional material (and any other material, such as letterhead) may not include:
- evaluation characteristics (judgments) pertaining to the lawyer;
- criticism by lawyers of other attorneys;
- statements about the likelihood of successful execution of orders and other statements that may give rise to unreasonable expectations for clients;
- instructions that may form the notion that the activity of this particular lawyer is characterized by the traits and indicators inherent in, in fact, the advocacy as such.
In my opinion, posting, for example, case statistics on a site is legitimate, even if a lawyer only posts information about successful cases, provided that this information is true. This cannot be attributed to valuation judgments because such information can be verified, for example, through court decisions.
The provision of satisfied client reviews, if such publications were made by a lawyer, is contrary to the said Rules, as they are likely to contain valuation judgments. However, in order to find out, these reviews need to be analyzed. For example, the placement of a lawyer by the response “Petrenko’s lawyer is the best lawyer in Kiev” contradicts the provisions of Art. 13 of the Rules. However, the testimony “Petrenko’s lawyer helped me win the case… in… court” does not contain valuation characteristics, so it is not a violation of the Rules.
Regarding the placement of customer reviews by a notary, the Rules of Professional Ethics of Notaries set the only way to advertise services by a notary – in the form of a business card. In addition, it is stated that the notary may not provide information in the advertisement regarding the notary’s evaluation characteristics, other persons’ feedback on the work of the notary, comparisons with other notaries and their criticisms.
Thus, notarization of customer reviews on the site is illegal.
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Author: Natalia Titovich