Russia exempts lawyers from licensing laws

Foreign lawyers in Russia will no longer have to go through the bureaucracy of registering with the Ministry of Justice following the passing of new rules last week designed to cut red tape for foreign businesses there.

However, the Ministry of Justice is understood to have strongly opposed the new exemption for lawyers and it will now support a new regime of attestation, whereby foreign lawyers will be required to show that they have the professional training and competence to practise in Russia.

The ministry is also thought to be seeking to combine the two professional titles of advocat and jurisconsults which will increase the status of foreign lawyers.

It is unclear as yet whether the new regime will require foreign lawyers to sit an examination, as in France, or if the ministry will recognise existing professional qualifications.

The exemption caused surprise among many foreign lawyers, but it has been broadly welcomed.

William Butler, managing partner of Price Waterhouse CIS Law Offices, said: “It will help to harmonise the profession and give us a single professional identity.”

Butler added that the licensing law will also greatly simplify the process of advising clients on what licenses they require to do business in Russia.