Exchange lawyers in line for EC funds

The European Commission is proposing making £7.1 million (ECU8.8 million) available to groups of lawyers who want to go on foreign exchanges or seminars.

Patrick Oliver, of the Law Society's Brussels office, said: “This is a lot of money which could help English solicitors strengthen their ties with their continental colleagues.

“The money would be available to any groups of lawyers from different members states who wanted to learn about each other's law.”

He added: “The more you know about each other, the more you are going to trust one another. This is a way of demystifying the law and the legal systems in other member states.”

The initiative, proposed by Swedish commissioner Anita Gradin, is known as the Grotious programme and would fund projects which fall into one of the following categories: training; exchange and work experience programmes; organisation of meetings, studies and research; and distribution of information. It will last until 2000.

The proposal needs the go-ahead of ministers which, according to Oliver, would not be forthcoming until September at the earliest.