MEPs lobbied to halt firms hitting rivals in advertising

EUROPEAN law societies are lobbying MEPs to exempt solicitors from an EC directive which would legalise comparative advertising.

The Law Society of England and Wales and the Law Society of Scotland currently do not allow solicitors to advertise by comparing themselves to other solicitors, but the directive legalises comparative advertising in any member state and among any profession where there is no blanket ban on advertising.

Patrick Oliver, of the Law Society's Brussels office, said: “We think this is something the Bars and law societies of each country should be allowed to decide for themselves.”

In the next few weeks, he said, the Law Society will be meeting MEPs to persuade them to table an amendment that would exempt solicitors from the draft directive.

Law societies and Bars from other countries will be doing the same.

Ramon Mullerat, the Spanish president of the the Council for European Bars and Law Societies, said the directive as it stood would be “an important breach” of Bars and law societies' “ability to regulate the profession”. He said an ad-hoc committee had been set up to draft an amendment to the directive which he hoped some MEPs could be persuaded to introduce.