EC moves on lawyers' rights

AFTER more than two years in the pipeline the European Commission has adopted a draft directive on the rights of establishment for foreign lawyers.

The long-awaited move has been welcomed by lawyers in Europe, who say the topic will now be publicly debated for the first time.

The directive was scheduled for discussion by the commission early last year, but it was delayed until 21 December.

It contains a provision for a right to practice under home title for only five years before a lawyer is forced to become a member of the host state's profession.

Patrick Oliver, representative of the joint Brussels office of the Law Societies, says adopting the directive means the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament will now discuss the subject and hear from lawyers.

“We welcome the fact that the commission has decided to adopt a proposal. We reserve judgment on the actual contents,” says Oliver.

“Now there will be public debate and that's healthy.”