German lawyers' registration passes from ministry to Bars

The German Federal Bar has won an important step in a long-standing battle with the Ministry of Justice to bring the registration of new lawyers under the control of local Bars.

A resolution passing control from the Ministry of Justice to the local Bars was made at the general assembly of the German Federal Bar in May and the government has since accepted it in principle.

If there are no unforeseen delays the necessary legislation could be heard in the next period of parliament and in place by 1999.

Peter Nagele, a partner with leading German firm Punder Volhard Weber & Axster, said the move would give the German Bars more power to regulate themselves, but added there would be little noticeable change in procedures.

He said: “It is better for lawyers this way – the Bar is more in touch with reality – legislation concerning lawyers has not changed for a long time, whereas conditions for lawyers are changing rapidly.”

The general assembly also agreed upon a resolution to end the disparity in the fixed fees schedule, which was designed to make lawyers affordable for Germans living in the East, where wage levels were lower.

The discount was initially set at 20 per cent from 1990 to 1996, but it currently stands at 10 per cent.