IBA hammers out rights of establishment resolution

AFTER months of wrangling, an International Bar Association (IBA) working party on rights of establishment has finally come up with a resolution which it claims will allow lawyers to practise their home law anywhere in the world.

The resolution will be put to the IBA's ruling council in June, along with a separate resolution on multi-disciplinary partnerships (MDPs). This was first unveiled at last November's IBA conference and says MDPs can be allowed but only if they are closely regulated.

US lawyer Ben Greer, who chaired the rights of establishment working group, said its resolution affirmed 'very strongly' that lawyers should be free to practise their own law in any country.

The IBA has been trying to reach a common position on rights of establishment for years.

A major stumbling block for Greer's working party was the belief of many IBA members that the UK and the US were attempting to steamroller the IBA into accepting a liberal rights of establishment regime so its firms could dominate their legal markets.

The Lawyer understands that Greer's committee has attempted to meet this objection by stating that domestic bars do have the right to regulate foreign firms which want to set up in their country.

The rights of establishment and MDP resolutions along with a third stressing the need for lawyers to remain independent will form the IBA's negotiating position ahead of a World Trade Organisation investigation into the legal profession which is due to begin later this year.