MEPs up pressure for establishment

THE EUROPEAN Commission has promised to draw up a draft rights of establishment directive by the end of November.

The news has been welcomed, but there are suspicions that the promise will not be kept because it was made under intense pressure from the European Parliament.

MEPs had written repeatedly to the commission to ask it to legislate on rights of establishment, which would allow solicitors from one country to set up in all of the other member countries. But the commission consistently failed to act.

Last week, Parliament issued an ultimatum that unless the commission drew up a draft directive, MEPs would do it, undermining the commission's legislating powers.

Another potential crisis looms, as commissioners cannot agree on the nature of the draft directive.

French lawyers want the right to set up in the UK practising English law and want English solicitors in France to operate under the joint titles of “advocat” and “solicitor”. The Law Society of England and Wales is lobbying hard to prevent this.

Patrick Oliver, Law Society representative in Brussels, says: “We would lobby against the adoption of any directive which included such rights. We are supported by the Germans and the Dutch.” The French are supported by the Spanish.

He adds: “We hope the commission keeps its promise to come up with a directive. If they do not, they will have to explain why they have not. This has been dragging on for years.”