2/21/2008

Bills Pending at National Assembly Concerning the Relationship between Lawyers and Tax Accountants

There are a couple of pending bills concerning the relationship between lawyers and tax accountants at the National Assembly. One bills concerns allowing lawyers to obtain tax accountant licenses and the second bill concerns allowing tax accountants to jointly represent clients with lawyers.

The first bill proposed by Lee Sang Min, a assemblyman in the United New Democratic Party, was transferred to the Legislation Judiciary Committee through the Finance and Economy Committee. Deliberations have begun on the bill at an Investigative Committee.

The bill is likely to pass. The bill was proposed by an attorney and received no objections at the Legislation Judiciary Committee on February 13, 2008. However, the Korean Bar Association has noted that the bill may cause confusion, in that some of the public may believe that attorneys are not able to represent clients in these matters even though the Attorney Act allows lawyers to represent clients in tax matters. I suspect this will be the major sticking point for the bill, but since it is proposed by an attorney it is likely to pass.

The second bill, concerning allowing tax accountants to jointly represent clients with attorneys, will have an uphill battle. The Korean Bar has already expressed its intention to oppose the bill. The Korean Bar Association expressed in a written opinion to the Finance and Economy Committee and the Ministry of Justice that "In a view that lawyers has as much specialty as tax accountants and jobs similar to lawyers should be eliminated because there would be many specialized lawyers graduating from law schools, the bill is incompatible with future's tendencies . . .As following the bills logic, it means that we should permit all professional specialists to represent clients in lawsuits, which is nonsense. Moreover, clients would bear added economical burdens since they should appoint both a lawyer and a tax accountant at the same time."

It seems, however, that the real concern is that the Korean Bar Association, as expressed in their opinion, fears “that lawyers would be assigned by tax accountants who made reliable relationship with clients before and lawyers assigned by tax accountants couldn't help performing only in a way tax accountants want. This would bring about a result different from the purpose of the bill which lets tax accountants just assist lawyers assigned by clients.”
I will update the reader if and when the bills pass HERE.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com