The governing council of the Cambodian Bar Association has decided to significantly reduce the fees it plans to charge foreign lawyers who want to appear before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, council members said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity following Friday’s governing council meeting to discuss the controversial issue, two members of the council said that it was decided that foreign lawyers would be charged a flat $500 fee to participate in the tribunal.
“The result is positive,” one council member said. “The result is to require foreign lawyers to get registered to practice in Cambodia for only $500.”
“The fee is for the whole [ECCC] process,” the council member added. “There is nothing more that they will have to pay.”
The bar association had previously asked for foreign attorneys who wished to appear before the tribunal to pay a $500 membership application fee.
Those who were chosen to represent a client would then have to pay an additional $2,000 plus $200 per month.
Earlier this month, the ECCC’s international judges issued a statement saying that if the fees were not reduced by the end of April, they would seek to eliminate the bar’s role in registering and disciplining foreign attorneys at the ECCC.
A second council member said Friday that the bar voted to reduce the fees because it did not want to be perceived as stalling the Khmer Rouge tribunal over the issue of money.
“We don’t want them to just accuse us of wanting their money,” he said. “We don’t want to be accused of making the court not go forward—we want the court to go ahead quickly,” he said, adding that 18 council members out of 19 had voted to approve the new flat rate.
Bar President Ky Tech declined to comment following Friday’s meeting, saying that a formal announcement of the bar’s decision was going to be made at a press conference this morning.
ECCC Public Affairs Officer Peter Foster said that the international side would not comment on the bar’s decision until it is formally announced, nor would any decision be made on how to proceed until the details of the bar’s proposal have been reviewed.
(Additional reporting by John Maloy)