The European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday (19 September) threw out the requirement for a lawyer to speak the language of the country he wants to practise in.

The ECJ handed down judgment in a case brought by the European Commission against Luxembourg after the Commission believed that Luxembourg’s bar rules, which require a lawyer wanting to practise in the Grand Duchy to pass an oral language test, were contrary to European rules on freedom of establishment.

The ECJ upheld the Commission’s view. It also found in favour of the Commission’s argument that European lawyers should be able to accept instructions from companies in Luxembourg, something which the country has prohibited.

The Commission also won its third argument, that Luxembourg’s requirement for foreign lawyers to produce an annual certificate of registration in their own country produced a disproportionate administrative burden.

Luxembourg must pay all the costs of the hearing.

The Law Society’s chief executive Desmond Hudson welcomed the ECJ’s ruling.