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Norton Rose is the latest law firm to be given approval by a Greek bar to register its operations as a branch office
Having received approval from the Piraeus Bar on 15 January, the firm’s offices in Athens and Piraeus are no longer described as “in association with Norton Rose”, but rather become branch offices of the firm. Holman Fenwick & Willan and Watson Farley & Williams were given approval in 2001. Norton Rose’s new status is particularly advantageous because lawyers no longer have to operate as a series of individuals in a similar way to barristers’ chambers. Chris Hobbs, Norton Rose’s managing partner in Greece, said: “I have effectively been the sole practitioner, with all the partners on contract to me. Tax rates were worse, there were administrative problems, and working in association with Norton Rose didn’t do much for our profile.” Registration involves presentation of the firm’s deed of partnership to a local Greek bar, which is then translated into Greek. A Greek academic then checks that the firm complies with local regulations, before the bar votes on whether registration approval should be granted. A majority vote is required. The development follows the introduction of the EU’s Freedom of Establishment Directive in May 2000, which opened up the Euro-pean legal market. But not all firms’ Greek offices have obtained branch status. Clyde & Co, for example, negotiated successfully in late 2000 for the chambers-style status, but as yet it has not received its full status.