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European Court Justice(ECJ) over alleged discrimination against foreign lawyers. If the case is successful, it could open the doors to many UK and US lawfirms wanting to set up in thebooming Italian market.Two separate cases have been brought by unnamed individuals overobstaclesfor professionals trying to set up in the country.At present Italian lawprohibits English lawyers who provide services inthe country from opening offices.Tobypass the rule, English and US firms have linked up with Italianfirms, for example,Linklaters has just announced that it is to add GianniOrigoni & Partners to itsAlliance.The Commission claims the Italian law infringes treaty provisions on thefreemovement of services within the EU.It says its view is supported by a 1995 ECJ rulingwhich recognised that aprovider of services may equip himself with some form ofinfrastructure,such as an office, chambers or consulting room.The second case challengesthe aptitude test given to foreign lawyers,which is thought to be too difficult.Whileaptitude tests are allowed under European law for the recognition ofhigher educationdiplomas, the Italian one takes more than one year toprocess and for the oral exam alone10 subjects are covered, which is morethan that required of Italian lawyers.Law Societydirector international Jonathan Goldsmith says he has notheard any complaints fromEnglish lawyers."The alleged restrictions do not seem to have had any effect on thebigfirms," he adds. "I was talking to an Italian lawyer the other day who saidthere isan English invasion in the legal market."However, if there has been a breach by Italythen we are glad that thecommission is taking Italy to the ECJ."
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