The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) has imposed administrative disciplinary action against four lawyers for failing to follow rules of professional conduct while more than 100 other cases are pending.
The four lawyers punished for ethical and professional misconduct are Chan Reasey Pheak, Lach Samrong, Taing Tonghab and To Vireak.
BAKC president Suon Visal imposed administrative disciplinary action on lawyer Chan Reasey Pheak, forbidding her from practising law for three months. But the punishment was suspended for five years. If she commits further wrongdoing within that time, disciplinary action would be added up .
Reasey Pheak faced disciplinary action for rushing a case and failing to fulfil her duty as a defence lawyer to a client.
Lach Samrong was punished for not respecting the principle of good relations with clients and causing disputes with them. He withdrew client money without contracts or client agreement. The BAKC has barred him from practising law for six months.
The BAKC also banned To Vireak from practising law for six months, but his punishment was suspended for five years. If he commits wrongdoing within that time, new punishment will be added. He was disciplined for not submitting defence documents on behalf of clients.
Lawyer Taing Tonghab was issued a written warning for posting insulting comments on social media about the BAKC leadership.
BAKC deputy secretary-general Liv Sovann said on Wednesday that the four were punished according to the Law on Statutes of Lawyers. He defended making the cases public and said the disciplinary committee is also examining 100 other cases.
“The dissemination of the names of the lawyers who committed this professional misconduct was made to educate the public and prevent the lawyers from repeating the misconduct. It also makes clear that the BAKC doesn’t just side with its lawyers.
“If they do wrong, we will impose administrative disciplinary action to strengthen the profession and the standards of each lawyer so he or she respects the code of ethics.
“In another point, we restore clients’ confidence in lawyers. If we don’t have mechanisms to impose administrative disciplinary action against them, clients would be concerned about the professional wrongdoings of lawyers,” he said.
Sovann said the BAKC had established measures in place to examine the professional practices of lawyers, but those mechanisms were set in motion quickly this year after power had been delegated to the disciplinary committee to check complaints.
“Some lawyers are the subjects of complaints but it doesn’t necessarily mean they committed wrongdoing. Most are not wrong. But because of confusion from plaintiffs and clients, we check. Those who understand this have withdrawn their complaints,” he said.
He said administrative discipline for lawyers can result in warnings, reprimand, suspension or removal from the BAKC (disbarment).
Some lawyers have been disbarred but not in the last two years. An estimated 1,200 lawyers are practising in Cambodia and there are 300 trainee lawyers, Sovann said.