Bar Association pushes forward against Meridor over Gaydamak case ethics

Bar Association pushes f

The disciplinary tribunal of the Tel Aviv branch of the Israel Bar Association will hear a case against Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor over a fees contract that he signed several years ago with Russian-Israeli businessman Arkadi Gaydamak. The dispute has to do with whether or not a lawyer may sign a contract with a client regarding criminal allegations, which includes a provision that part of the fee will depend on the outcome of the case. In civil cases, it is frequent practice for lawyer to charge a percentage of the value of the settlement he is able to achieve for his client. In criminal cases, however, outcome-based fees are illegal. In Meridor's case, Gaydamak asked him to represent him not in a trial but in a hearing before the attorney-general on to decide whether or not to press criminal charges against him. According to Yediot Ahronot, Meridor and his office reached an agreement whereby part of Gaydamak's payment would be fixed in advance, no matter what the outcome of the hearing, and that Gaydamak would pay NIS 5 million more, if the attorney-general agreed to drop the case against him. Yediot also reported that the watchdog organization Ometz filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee of the district branch of the Bar, accusing Meridor of breaking the law. Meridor maintained that the law regarding a contract for representing a client in a criminal case did not apply in the case of a hearing preceding the decision on whether to hold a trial. Two months ago, the council of the Tel Aviv Bar voted seven to five to bring the matter before the disciplinary tribunal. Recently, however, the attorney appointed to prosecute the case against Meridor informed the minister that because the vote had been so close, he was prepared to bring the matter before the committee for reconsideration. Meridor was asked to submit documents and legal opinions justifying his position. However, a few days ago, the council rejected Meridor's arguments and decided that the hearing before the disciplinary tribunal would take place after all.