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Portugal’s law association expels 13 lawyers in 5 years

Bar Association slow and inefficientPortugal’s Bar Association has expelled the grand total of 13 lawyers in the past 60 months, mainly for fraud and for stealing client funds.

A report released today said all of these expulsions were of lawyers registered in the Lisbon and Oporto areas with not one sacked in the Algarve despite many instances of ‘lawyer missing with clients’ money.’

During this period a further 141 lawyers have been suspended, pending judgement by the association.

Of the cases reported, perhaps the most publicised is that of Romeu Francês for stealing money, and of João Vale e Azevedo for  knowingly breaking the code of ethics for which he received a 10 year ban.

Meanwhile the search continues for missing Lagos lawyer, Maria Jose Violante Linhares Dias who took sick leave with client funds early in 2013.

There are 2,381 cases of serious complaints against lawyers still pending and at the slow crawl that the Bar Association is managing, it will be many years before appropriate sanctions are imposed on those lawyers that have stolen money or otherwise indulged in unbecoming behaviour.

One of the main barriers for foreign companies setting up in Portugal is the slow and complicated legal system. If Portugal's lawyers are seen to be slow in regulating and punishing themselves this sends out the wrong signal the public and to investors. Sanctions against wayward lawyers need to be swift and painful to restore confidence in the association's role as regulator.

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