EU to cut red tape on free movement

A SPECIAL EU ministers working group has reached agreement on proposals to sweep away the restrictions governing lawyers' rights of establishment within the union.

The agreement, hammered out by a Council of Ministers working group, promises to bring to an end two decades of argument surrounding the freer movement of lawyers in the union.

The group was set up to scrutinise a draft EU directive on rights of establishment and had been deadlocked for some time over article 10, on the integration of foreign lawyers into a host country's profession.

The UK and Germany were keen to see some form of quality control before allowing foreign lawyers to practise under their home title.

Now a compromise has been reached, with all sides agreeing that aptitude tests should be scrapped.

As the draft currently stands, three years unbroken practise concerning the domestic law of the host nation plus the added filter of interviews, will allow the integration of foreign lawyer into the host nation's profession.

The draft directive still needs to be voted on by the European parliament, but commentators believe that major changes are unlikely.

“Those in the know confidently predict the directive will be passed by the end of the year or the beginning of the next, ” said the Law Society's international director Jonathan Goldsmith.

Guy Leigh, partner in charge of City firm Theodore Goddard's EU/competition group, welcomed the latest development.

He commented: “Any increase in the free movement of lawyers, in terms of establishment, is welcome, provided that there is some quality control.”