EURO MPs have shown initial signs of supporting a permanent right of cross-border establishment for EU lawyers following a debate in the European Parliament last week.
The move has been welcomed by the law societies of England and Wales and Scotland, which have long opposed the European Commission's proposal that lawyers should be subject to compulsory integration into the host state profession after five years.
Parliament has asked its draftsmen to prepare a draft report on the subject by 21 June.
The Law Societies' Brussels representative Patrick Oliver says last week's discussion between the Legal Affairs Committee and internal market commissioner Mario Monti has left UK legal bodies “optimistic”.
“Though it's still early days we're fairly pleased because most of the MEPs who spoke, if not all, doubted whether a five-year limitation on establishment under home title could be justfied,” says Oliver.
“The law societies are therefore fairly optimistic that the parliament will want to amend the commission's proposal. At this early stage in the proceedings there is a movement within the parliament towards reversing the temporary right which is in the commission's proposal, and the law societies have welcomed that.”
Oliver says discussion also arose on aptitude tests for foreign lawyers wishing to integrate, a system which operates in most member states.
“There were a lot of views expressed,” says Oliver. “The views of the law societies remain that there should be some form of quality control to ensure the incoming lawyer has adequate knowledge of, and is competent in, host state law.”