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10 December 2015

Defending The Guardians Of Freedom Of Speech

‘Guardians of Freedom of speech’was the theme of a unique event taking place in Belfast to mark European Lawyers Day 2015.

The event, which coincides with World Human Rights Day, had been organised by the Law Society of Northern Ireland in association with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).

Over 120 members of the legal profession and invited guests attended the event at Law Society House in Belfast where they had an opportunity to hear from the Honourable Mr Justice Colton.  In his key note address to delegates, Mr Justice Colton reflected on the:

  • balance between the right to a freedom of speech and the right not to be insulted or discriminated against
  • freedom for a citizen to speak to their lawyer without fear or interference and
  • fear of surveillance of privileged lawyer/client communications when balanced against national security or prevention of crime.

The now annual event takes place throughout Europe and celebrates the common values of lawyers and their role in civil society in promoting the rule of law, as well as lawyers’ common values and contribution to the justice system.

Commenting on the event the President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, John Guerin said:

“Freedom of speech is at the heart of individual liberty and democracy. Yet, in many parts of the world it is under attack. Increasingly citizens including lawyers, are regularly attacked, censored, detained, prosecuted or incarcerated for defending the right to freedom of speech.  As guardians of freedom of speech it is important that on World Human Rights day we recognise their invaluable contribution to Society.”




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