Arman Sarvarian, Professional Ethics at the International Bar, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, xxv + 306 pp, hb, £70.00.

Date01 November 2014
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12102
Published date01 November 2014
Arman Sarvarian,Professional Ethics at the International Bar, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2013, xxv + 306 pp, hb, £70.00.
Professional Ethics at the International Bar makes a valiant contribution to the
present wave of scholarship on ethics in international law dispute resolution.
Originally completed by Sarvarian as a doctoral thesis at University College
London, the book offers a normative statement about the desirability and
feasibility of uniform standards for the professionalisation of advocates appearing
in international litigation and arbitration. Acknowledging that not all advocates
are legally educated or qualified as practising lawyers, the book’s title aptly refers
to professional, not legal, ethics. The book effectively argues that advocates
appearing before international courts and tribunals should be controlled by
common ethical standards under formal regulation and admission requirements,
and suggests that admission prerequisites should include mandatory legal quali-
fications, language skills, formal training and experience in public international
law advocacy, and moral character.
The book is aimed at a readership consisting of those involved in advocacy
and adjudication in public international law. This includes practising legal
counsel, international judges and academics working in public international law
dispute resolution (in civil and criminal jurisdictions). Though the book’s intro-
duction does not specifically include a reference to international arbitrators and
international arbitration practitioners, its scope seems to be directed to them as
well.
‘Ethics’, and indeed the ethics of lawyers/advocates, is an unwieldy and
contentious concept. The book does not actually define ‘ethics’. Chapter one
instead focuses on professionalism largely defined as moral behaviour where
‘professional ethics are a collective set of moral rules governing the provision of
service’ (14). Other key concepts are: professionalisation as the regulation of
advocacy into a formal bar (15) and fundamental ethical duties of international
advocates which are to ‘seek to persuade the court of the righteousness of his
client’s cause’ (16). The book contends that all ethical problems for advocates
stem from ‘conflicts between duties owed to justice, court and the client’ (16).
Although the book’s title refers to an ‘international bar’ there is presently no
organised international bar. The book thus attempts to map out a journey toward
creating one as both a desirable and feasible goal. That journey is divided into
three objectives which (perhaps owing to the book’s doctoral origins) are
directed at filling a gap in salient scholarship about the professionalisation of
international advocacy. However the book’s conception of professional ethics as
a form of largely external moral rules governing service provision presents an
inherent obstacle to its capacity to achieve all of its stated objectives. This is
because despite the tantalising feasibility and desirability of externally controlling
the often inconsistent international professional advocacy standards via uniform
regulation, that solution faces insurmountable problems of efficacy. These arise
because of the book’s characterisation, and hence its treatment, of professional
ethics as a regulatory force that largely emanates from external forces in the form
of rules that govern services. This conception does not allow for sufficient
recognition of the role played by internal moral forces which may be significantly
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© 2014 The Authors. The Modern Law Review © 2014 The Modern Law Review Limited.
1042 (2014) 77(6) MLR 1030–1047

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