/ Mandatory Bar Association membership: Arturo Alessandri’s interview in El Mercurio

May 17, 2021

On Monday, May 10, 2021, the general council of the Chilean Bar Association agreed to urge the Constituent Convention (CC) to eliminate the current prohibition and allow the legislator to establish mandatory tuition to practice the profession. A project will be delivered to the constituents, in order for them to translate the initiative into the new Constitution.

Regarding this resolution adopted by the board, Arturo Alessandri C., former president of the Bar Association (2015-2019) and partner of Alessandri, was interviewed by El Mercurio on Thursday, May 13, 2021. Alessandri commented that in his opinion “the freedom of association is incompatible with mandatory tuition”.

Our partner prefers “to have less power, fewer affiliates, but maintain the freedom to join or not join the association.” He believes that such action would weaken the freedom of association, “because if one reads art. 19 No. 15 (of the Constitution) says textually ‘no one can be forced to belong to an association’, and the same thing that says art. 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Regarding the possible advance of the proposal and the characteristics that professional associations should have, Alessandri states that “the temptation to make interventions of a political nature is enormous (…) and, therefore, the association’s elections become more political than union. This is one of the great risks of giving them a monopoly on the professions to their respective associations.”

For him, the best solution would be to establish ethical tribunals through a law on professional associations, “like the one that has been sleeping in Congress for more than ten years,” he adds. “The Supreme Court has declared that the bar association’s code of ethics has application and should be applied to non-collegiate lawyers. That means that in the absence of registration, people can go to the courts to request that there be a control”, Alessandri says.

Source: El Mercurio, May 13, 2021, page C9.