Law Society finds double flaw in EC directive

The European Commission's draft directive on rights of establishment for foreign lawyers is “fundamentally flawed” in two respects, the Law Society council was told.

Chair of the international committee Fiona Woolf said that there was a groundswell of opposition to the proposals.

Germany, Holland, Scotland and Northern Ireland were joining forces with the Law Society and the Bar Council to lobby against the directive.

Woolf, a partner at McKenna & Co, told council members at a meeting last week that the rights of lawyers working abroad to practise their own country's law would be limited to five years.

After that period they would have to either integrate or leave. This would not suit those UK firms with offices in Europe.

The other problem with the proposal was that lawyers would be allowed to integrate into a foreign jurisdiction provided they had been practising the country's law for three years, Woolf said.

The directive does not include checks to ensure that a lawyer has met the appropriate quality standard, she said.

“Our objective is to secure an amendment to the directive to deal with both of these defects,” she said.