Is this a simple case of a high profile law running foul of the government or other interests and then being silenced, or at least trying to be silenced, by taking away the right to practice law? Maybe if we were cynical enough as people to believe that such a thing remains possible in 2008!
The alleged breach is of Article 4(j), Article 3(b), and Article 6 of the Indonesian Advocates' Code of Ethics. These particular Articles deal with matters relating to conflict of interest and serving your client's interests. What is intriguing about this case is that the person who submitted the complaint to the Regional Honour Board for Jakarta was none other than Hotman Paris Hutapea.
Most people might have been salivating at the prospect of two of Indonesia's premier legal minds going at it tooth and nail if this had been the case of them being pitted against each other in a matter before the courts. The reality of one of them potentially losing their license does not have that same saliva-ability to it.
Without going into any serious analysis of the decision to strip Mulya Lubis of his license, it is worth pointing out that on face value it seems that Indonesia is in fact taking breaches of the Code of Ethics seriously if one of Indonesia's more senior advocates can fall foul of the system and be stripped of his license to practice.
Nevertheless, the decision to strip the man of his license to practice is harsh as this is the ultimate penalty available and in essence strips the man of the ability to earn a livelihood in his chosen profession. If a breach of the Code was proven then perhaps a temporary suspension of his license to practice and the suspension being permanently recorded on his professional record may have been sufficient. There were dissenting opinions in the judgment of the Regional Honour Board and it seems the dissent did not relate to the substance of the breach but rather the severity of the penalty imposed.
It is likely that Mulya Lubis will instruct his counsel to appeal the decision. He has this right! The decision is appellable to the Central Honour Board. However, my understanding is that any decision issued by the Central Honour Board is final and binding. If the Central Honour Board affirms the decision of the Regional Honour Board then Indonesia will have lost one of its senior advocates from its ranks.
However, it must be said that a conflict of interest is a conflict of interest and lawyers should understand when they have one. The advocate should then disclose the conflict of interest and recuse themselves from the matter. A failure to do so is a breach of the Code and is punishable. It is clear from the decision that the Regional Honour Board considers a breach of the conflict of interest provisions sufficiently serious to warrant the ultimate penalty!