The Legal Profession:
The legal profession in Kazakhstan is divided into: (1) legal consultants providing commercial legal services, who are authorised to represent clients in civil and administrative courts of Kazakhstan; (2) advocates authorized mostly to represent clients in the criminal courts of Kazakhstan; and (3) commercial lawyers who provide legal advice and assistance.
Both legal consultants and advocates’ practices are regulated by the Law ‘On Advocacy and Legal Services’ dated 5 July 2018.
Regulation of legal profession:
Following the enactment of the Law ‘On Advocacy and Legal Services’ dated 5 July 2018, commercial lawyers who represent clients in court must be a member of a chamber of legal consultants. In order to qualify as a legal consultant, you must have a law degree and at least two years of legal work experience and be a certified member of a chamber of legal consultants.
The country’s main Chamber of Legal Consultants “Kazakhstan Bar Association” (the “KazBar”) has recently undergone state re-organisation and is now a certified regulatory body for legal consultants. Its membership includes lawyers from law firms such as Dentons, Baker & McKenzie – CIS Limited, White and Case, Kinstellar LLP as well as local law firms, such as SIGNUM, Aequitas, GRATA, and Unicase. In order to be admitted to KazBar, a candidate must pass the multiple choice test on major legal subject areas as well as an interview with KazBar’s Admissions Committee.
Advocates must have a law degree, have passed a qualifying exam and have carried out a period of training of at least three months with an experienced advocate before they can obtain a licence. Licences are issued by the Ministry of Justice.
There are approximately 4,000 advocates in Kazakhstan who are licensed and regulated by the Ministry of Justice. There are 16 regional bar associations, as well as city bar associations in Almaty and Nur-Sultan. The Collegium of Advocates is the federal body which represents the interests of advocates at national level but does not have any regulatory or licensing powers. The Collegium of Advocates is based in Nur-Sultan.
Starting from 1 January 2020, both legal consultants and advocates will be subject to mandatory professional liability insurance.
Commercial lawyers who provide legal advice and legal assistance (without representation in court) do not have a special status under Kazakh law, are not regulated and do not enjoy the same privileges and immunities as advocates and legal consultants.
Foreign law firms
Foreign law firms wishing to establish in Kazakhstan can do so through a representative office/branch office or a commercial local legal entity in a form of a limited liability partnership (aka “LLC” in other jurisdictions). All of them are subject to local currency regime. There is no requirement for foreign lawyers to register with chambers and/or bar associations to practice as a foreign lawyer, but foreign lawyers cannot conduct litigation or advocacy work in the Kazakh courts.
The Collegium of Advocates of the Republic of Kazakhstan was added to the recognised jurisdictions list for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) in 2015. The Chamber of Legal Consultants “Kazakhstan Bar Association” was added to the recognised jurisdiction list for QLTS in October 2019.
Advocates and members of KazBar can now requalify as solicitors of England and Wales. The QLTS does not require a degree in common law or even an LLM from a UK university. Qualifying via this route does not require a training contract or experience with a UK law firm either. The Scheme is managed by the Law Society for England and Wales’ regulatory arm, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and by Kaplan QLTS.
The tests are designed to ensure that requalifying lawyers meet the same standard of knowledge and skill required of a locally-qualified solicitor of England and Wales.
For more information on QTLS and application process please visit the SRA’s website.
On 30 November 2015, Kazakhstan became the 162nd member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Within the framework of The Accession Protocol of Members, Kazakhstan signed 17 binding agreements, and adopted amendments and made additions to some legislative acts in order to bring Kazakhstan legislation into conformity with the commitments undertaken.