Safety has a more general and complex meaning than is usually understand in our society. Actually, it’s better to emphasize that this word includes different meanings, which are usually recognized as something unconnected in our country. Everybody knows about traffic safety or fire safety. Many of us recognize the necessity to follow the rules of industrial safety in all of its various types. And some of our countrymen recognize the existence of legal safety (or legal security).
Traditionally, from Soviet times when almost all official relations in the society were of the “citizen-government” type, and these relations were simple, people didn’t have a necessity, or the skills, to build up legal safety. Of course, there were private court suits, services of the lawyers and legal consultations, but all of that took place and were demanded only when people faced emergencies in their lives. However, legal safety as a system of actions, taken by the citizen as preventive means of protection didn’t exist; protecting oneself against infringements in life, freedom, property with legal methods didn’t exist. In the socialist society, the above didn’t have anything to emerge from.
With that luggage, we entered the system of modern relations, which is fundamentally different to the system of the Soviet times. Initially, at the times of “wild” capitalism, society didn’t recognize the need for legal safety; why bother with legal safety when rackets are all around. People were already occupied trying to avoid the “pressure” of “crimson jackets”. However, times have changed; the type of “pressure” also changed, hence changing the reaction of people to it.
Legal safety is one level above physical safety. That is, when the person is physically safe against criminals or fire, he starts to build up the system of legal safety for himself, his family and his property – that’s how Evgeny Porokhov, candidate of science, and director of the Financial and Tax Rights Research Institute, commented upon these historical events.
As with other types of safety (for example, industrial or physical), legal safety has its own mechanisms and methods to ensure protection. The mechanisms and methods are employed to create the protecting system. The need for a systematic approach to protection is always emphasized by lawyers. Among the methods to build it up, they name the necessity for compliance of one’s own legal status with all legal norms and requirements. It is important, because usually they make legal attacks, in that they use legal actions in an attempt to take away property, deprive rights for something or limit the actions, when they know that the targeted person has a weakness, which can be used to gain some benefits.
-If a person or an entity has not ensured their own legal safety and the legal safety of their business (for example, if they have some weakness, such as the absence of necessary licenses, the running of an illegal business, the realization of a false deal, deliberate bankruptcy or the illegal receipt or use of credit), then this person or entity is at risk of being attacked by competitors, enemies or criminals with the goals of blackmailing, taking away business or just creating problems. Besides, the person or entity can draw the attention of the legal enforcement bodies. – That’s how Nurlan Makenov, Deputy Director of “Tax Expert” Ltd., describes a possible situation.
According to comments made by lawyers, legal safety is a complicated issue and not everybody obtains it easily. “The first degree of protection” is what the specialists call the ability of the object have legal status; that is, the absence of any legal defects in the status. Thus, a protected person is one who is lawful, and fulfills his legal responsibilities; for example, pays taxes, builds up a career without breaching the law, doesn’t have an illegal double citizenship, or doesn’t have undeclared property abroad. Such a picture illustrates a stainless status, which is the basis of legal safety. Taking into account the recent history of our country, when large and sometimes medium sized amounts of capital were created “out of nothing” using dubious methods, it becomes clear that building up legal safety is often difficult. Especially if the creator of the capital didn’t stop there, using the interest income, but went further into the competitive area, where the defects in legal status are often used against competitors. The best tactic in such competition is strongly and thoroughly built up protection. If you want peace, prepare for war.
Naturally, a non-specialist cannot create the necessary system himself, so the services of professional lawyers are demanded. This type of lawyers should have not just extensive, but also many-sided experience. Many experts believe that working with a company, rather than a private lawyer, is optimal for the best protection of the client’s interests. According to Mr. Makenov, “the lawyer will have the role of regulator in the relations of the person, forming his protection against external opponents; the lawyer will also consider the person’s rights and liabilities to third parties”. This type of task is easier to do if the specialist is not alone, but, rather, integrated into the mechanism that is ready to protect the client in all aspects of his activities.
How do clients look for the “legal security personnel”? Based on specific criteria, one needs to make a selection between legal advising companies which would protect him. The criteria are the same as in any other business; brand, qualification, experience, business reputation and price. One should be very careful in the choice, because a mistake may be very expensive.
Mr. Porokhov emphasized that a 100% guarantee of legal protection doesn’t exist in the real life. If 100 highly professional lawyers work in a well branded company, it still may be the case that 5 of them got the job by some accident, and one of them may make a disappointing legal mistake in working with you on the day when you especially need the protection. However, if one follows the general selection criteria, he can build up a good system of legal safety, with a 95% guarantee.
However, what can a potential client find among the supply, and what does the market look like? The picture described by the specialists is very complicated. Mr. Porokhov compares the newly emerged market with “magma, when it has been released and is gradually cooling down; there still is a boiling stream of something, and already there are some contours of new forms, which can be characterised, analysed and assessed”.
-Such a situation on the market of legal services is understandable. Society has only recently recognized the necessity for systematic legal protection. Interestingly, the status of the demand side of the market can also be described by the image of magma, only 3-5% of which has taken the final shape. This part is the amount of competent customers, who can assess the quality of legal services. Actually, this small proportion of the customer base controls the largest share of capital – says Evregy Porokhov.
Does it mean that the problem of legal security is important only for oligarchs and magnates? Of course not. The issue is also very topical for thegeneral public. As pointed out by one of the lawyers in Almaty, “The daily “harvest” of money, work, strength, energy and time is collected from each person, and then it creates those magnates’ wealth”.
- The above takes place because of simple legal illiteracy or the absence of the practice of dealing with lawyers. Everyone knows examples of legal actions against people for not presenting their tax report or tax evasion, examples of recognition of deals as illegal, deprivation of a licence, revocation of business entity registration, arguments about inheritance among relatives, arguments among owners and builders over losses due to a low quality of construction or late submission of the apartments for sale. Often people in these situations don’t know their rights, how to deal with the counteragents, and how they violate a person’s rights. People often do not know that they have been treated illegally, and participate in some schemes imposed upon them. As a result, the person is pulled into many problems, which puts him under somebody’s thumb. If the person seeks legal help in due time, it is possible to avoid the problems with a lower level of expense and risk and with the best positive effect for the client. – comments Nurlan Makenov.
Another example illustrating the importance of legal security of another level, are the spot-check schemes, which are yet only common in our neighbors within the CIS. This is a question of complex security with prior, legally ambiguous events providing grounds for the investigation. Even a short-term spot-check act, which can be appealed against, gives the initiators of the action the chance to win some time and make negative changes to the targeted company.
However, the demand side of the market, as pointed above, is not a “hardened magma”. It is undergoing a continuous development. The recognition of the importance of legal safety reaches different levels of society, but it doesn’t happen fast. However, there is one factor in the issue of legal safety that gives a small hope to people who are not protected yet: the competence of the attackers is also low.
- Our criminals and corrupted officials have little knowledge of the ways to legally take away other’s property. There are few highly qualified “Ostap Benders” in our country, who know of hundred of ways of legally extracting other’s property.
There is a “ping-pong” game between the fighting parties and every case of attack gives birth to new methods of protection – said Mr. Porokhov. There are changes in the minds of society; people start to understand that legal business is eventually more beneficial and safe than black market trading. Now there are two approaches to the problems: first, there is the opinion that if there are no problems today, why should one undertake the expense of creating this safety; second is the understanding that going to the lawyer is like going to a dentist – not only the treatment, but also preventive measures are necessary.
- The problem is in the legal nihilism and common legal incompetence of most of the citizens. This should be eliminated by the efforts of professional lawyers and by life itself – said Mr. Porokhov.
However, legal safety as a system of actions, taken by the citizen as preventive means of protection didn’t exist; protecting oneself against infringements in life, freedom, property with legal methods didn’t exist