MEPs push for unity on home title

THE EUROPEAN Parliament has warned member state professions to find common ground over rights of establishment or face a ruling from on high.

MEPs have recommended that the Council of Bars and Law Societies of the European Union (CCBE) reaches an agreed position on the issue at its plenary session in Dresden next month.

If the CCBE delegations cannot agree, the Parliament's legal affairs committee, due to meet again on 22 November, has indicated it will decide the matter itself out of Brussels.

The Parliament is expected to prepare its final report on rights of cross-border establishment by the end of the year.

At present there is a split in CCBE ranks, with members divided over whether the profession should move towards regulated free trade or compulsory integration into host state professions after five years.

The UK and German delegations, staunch supporters of free trade, have already put forward a new proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock.

The proposal was initially presented to the CCBE in Brussels last month. Although it was not immediately passed, former Law Society head of international Hamish Adamson said at the time the opposing Spanish and French delegations had not rejected the plan out of hand.

Patrick Oliver, the Brussels representative of the Law Societies of England and Wales and Scotland, said the compromised proposal, which “seeks to build on concessions from the two main sides”, was hoped to win a majority vote.

“The message coming from the European Parliament is that Europe's legal profession has a final opportunity to reach agreement before a political solution is imposed,” said Oliver.

“We think that there is a need for a directive and we would prefer a consensus to emerge within the CCBE.

“The joint UK/German proposal is based on both sides making concessions and the preliminary indication is that the proposal is attracting support from a significant majority of the CCBE delegations.

“We hope that we will be able to find a compromise which is acceptable to all the delegations.”