Legal Representation in Israel
The authority of legal representation in Israel is granted only to lawyers who hold a legally valid license to practice law in Israel. Section 20 of the Bar Association Law, 5721-1961, determines a list of unique actions which only lawyers are allowed to take:
• Representation before various public authorities such as courts, tribunals, bodies with judicial or quasi-judicial powers, and various state agencies such as the tax authorities and the registrars of companies and partnerships;
• Preparing documents of a legal character, including representation in negotiations toward the preparation of such documents;
• Advice and providing legal opinions.
Legal representation in Israel.
Execution of actions exclusively singled out for lawyers by a person who is not legally a lawyer is a criminal offense. A person who is not a lawyer and who carries out an action singled out for lawyers is defined as someone who breached the boundaries of the profession and can be sentenced to a monetary fine, pursuant to Section 96 of the law. The case of a person who poses as a lawyer, or a suspended lawyer who carries out an action singled out for a lawyer in his period of suspension, is worse since he can be sentenced to one year in jail or a monetary fine, pursuant to Section 97 of the law.
Section 53 of the Bar Association Law also forbids a lawyer’s partnership with a person who is not a lawyer and also prohibits sharing income with such a person in consideration for services, assistance, or another benefit to his or her business. Regulation 472 of the Civil Procedure Regulations determines that any action at court required from a litigant or permitted for a litigant pursuant to the law can only be executed through the litigant himself or through a certified lawyer in Israel unless there is another provision of law. Therefore, a person who is not a lawyer may not represent another in court, even if this is done uniquely and/or for no consideration unless there is a provision of law allowing this. In Permission for Civil Appeal 8120/08 Biton v. Portal, for example, it was determined that a litigant cannot be represented by a “close friend,” without a provision of law allowing this.
What may a foreign lawyer in Israel practice?
A “foreign lawyer” is defined in Section 98A of the Bar Association Law as a lawyer holding a license to practice law outside Israel, whose center of professional activity as a lawyer is outside Israel, and who was registered in the foreign lawyer registry managed by the Israel Bar Association. Section 98B(a) of the Bar Association Law determines that notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20 of the law, a foreign lawyer may provide legal services on matters of foreign law. This means that according to this section, a foreign lawyer may provide legal services in Israel, but only with respect to foreign law, and he or she may not provide legal services regarding Israeli law, which may only be provided by a lawyer holding a valid license to practice law in Israel, as foregoing.
The rationale behind the specification of legal representation in Israel.
The purpose of the specification of legal representation in Israel is to promote the public interest in ensuring legal services on an adequate level and to protect the public from people who do not possess the appropriate skills to provide the service.
Unlike lawyers, those breaching the boundaries of the profession and posing as lawyers have never been certified to practice law as legally required, and in addition, they are under not the supervision of the laws applicable to a lawyer, including the various rules of ethics intended to ensure the dignity of the profession and to ensure that the service provided to the client is fair and proper. As a result, clients who receive legal representation in Israel from a person who is not legally a lawyer are exposed to many serious risks, such as unprofessional and completely negligent representation, no assurance of no conflict of interest or protection of the client’s confidentiality and of protecting the client’s funds, no collection of fees beyond those legally permitted and other such risks.
In Civil Appeal 4223/12 the Medical Rights Realization Center Ltd. et al v. the Israel Bar Association et al., the Supreme Court determined that the plaintiff, a company owned by Livnat Poran, is in breach of the boundaries of the legal profession and that it is permitted to provide only assistance of a technical nature, such as filling forms, etc., to a person who is not familiar with the nuances of language or who suffers from any deficiency or handicap, and on matters that do not entail the processing of facts, the exercise of discretion or reliance on law.
The foregoing is even more important for people residing abroad, who have legal matters in Israel requiring legal representation, and in fact, only an Israeli lawyer proficient and experienced in Israeli law can represent them or manage their affairs in the best manner, and therefore it is recommended to approach an experienced and highly recommended lawyer holding an Israeli license.
Eli Shimony – Israeli law firm represents clients on all legal matters in Israel. For any questions please contact us and we will be happy to assist.
By email: [email protected], By phone: +972-52-2769773, +972-3-5507155.
The above is only general information and does not replace legal advice which is usually necessary before taking legal proceedings.