A total of 88 lawyers have lost their right to practice law in Norway over the past six years, while another 160 have faced disciplinary action and 314 received warnings. Sanctions have resulted from violations of professional ethics to fraud and even sexual assault.
“This is terrible,” Helge Tveit, chief of ethics for the national lawyers’ association Advokatforeningen told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “If confidence in lawyers crumbles, we have a problem.”
The actual number of lawyers who were disbarred declined from 2008 to 2013 while the numbers of warnings was fairly steady. Tveit noted that being disbarred is “dramatic, it means you lose your job. Every case is unfortunate and hurts the entire profession.”
Reasons for losing authorization to practice law last year included fraud, embezzlement, and several cases of receiving stolen property. In one case, a lawyer was disbarred because of a case involving sexual assault against two children.
“The most serious cases we get are punishable offenses in connection with how a lawyer has performed his or her job,” Thomas Smedsvig, leader of the council that handles complaints against lawyers (Tilsynsrådet for Advokatvirksomhet) told DN. Cases also often involve how lawyers have handled assets entrusted to them and violations that hurt the client.