Disbaring Bad Lawyers

Disbaring bad lawyers


Considering all the frauds and scams perpetrated against both expatriates and Indonesian citizens through the Indonesian legal system, it may be suprising to hear that it is possible to have bad lawyers disbared.

The main Indonesian lawyers’ association is named PERADI, and they are making serious efforts to promote professionalism and honesty in the Indonesian law community.

Below we will discuss the case of lawyer Ida Bagus Wikantara who was permanently disbared by PERADI in December 2015 as the results of his handling of a particularly shocking case in Bali.

Ida Bagus Wikantara in happier days.

But PERADI can’t act on their own. They don't investigate lawyers. A complaint for disbarment must be brought to PERADI for hearing before the Board of Honor. The proceedings are exactly as they would be in bringing a case to trial in a civil court. The burden of proof is entirely upon the Complainant to prove the case.

Bringing a complaint involves difficult work, but the reward is the satisfaction of knowing that, if the disbarment is permanent as with Ida Bagus Wikantara, the lawyer will not be free to destroy other lives as he did in your case.

And secondly, if your case is ongoing, the fact that PERADI has disciplined a lawyer may help you in your further proceedings.


What are grounds for disbarment?

You can’t have a lawyer disbarred just because you hate him, or because you lost your case, regardless whether he served as the lawyer for your side or the opposing side. Disbarment requires a gross violation of the lawyer’s Code of Ethics which are codified into Indonesian law. If the lawyer has actually violated the law by committing a crime, that crime is also a violation of ethics which can lead to disbarment.

Indonesian lawyers frequently argue that they are immune to criminal prosecution or even ethics violations for actions they undertake on behalf of a client. This is untrue, and some lawyers seem to have an overinflated understanding of their privileges.

When a client signs a Power of Attorney (Surat Kuasa Khusus) with a lawyer, the client is granting the attorney the power to act on his or her behalf. But the client cannot grant powers to the attorney that the client never possesses to begin with. Clients do not have the right to commit crimes and so cannot possibly grant power to an attorney to commit crimes.

Attorneys can defend clients against accusations of crimes, and attorneys have the right to keep clients’ secrets, in the sense that the attorney is granted an extension of the client’s rights through the Surat Kuasa Khusus and the client has the right to keep her own secrets. But if an attorney, under the mistaken belief that he has the right to help a client, actually participates in a crime, the attorney is every bit as legally responsible for committing the crime as the client.

Ethics violations may also fall short of actual crimes. Gross dishonesty, disrespect for the legal system, defrauding a client, lying to a client about the law or the results of court decisions, destroying a client or client’s family or taking advantage of a client’s educational or mental handicaps in an effort to prolong a case and extract fees, these are all ethics violations.

The Ida Bagus Wikantara complaint involved all these ethical and criminal violations, and they ended with Ida Bagus Wikantara being disbarred for both violations of the Code of Ethics and criminal actions which victimized his own client and his client’s family.

We are familiar with numerous other cases involving clear violations of ethics. Bringing complaints before PERADI is a public service.


The Ida Bagus Wikantara case is discussed in detail HERE.