UK slams establishment delay

UK LEGAL representatives have criticised the European Commission over its lack of action in releasing a draft directive on rights of establishment.

The commission had been expected to raise the matter in Brussels last Wednesday, but it did not come up. Sources predict it will be scheduled at the commission's next meeting in Strasbourg on 14 December.

The representative of the joint Brussels office of the Law Societies, Patrick Oliver, says Europe's lawyers have been waiting more than two years for a directive to be released, and many are now placing their hopes with the European parliament which had said it would act if the matter was not tabled in the commission by the end of last month.

The draft is thought to contain a provision for a right to practise under home title for just five years before a lawyer is forced to become a member of the host state's profession.

“The opinion of the law societies is that such a proposal would not facilitate the right of establishment,” says Oliver.

“We are opposed to this proposal and we are in favour of a permanent right of establishment under home title – it should not be limited in time.”

Oliver says it is “very disappointing” that the matter has been postponed yet again, and indications are that the commission will eventually approve “something with which the majority of European legal professions disagree”.

“One of the reasons this is so disappointing is that the commission has said all along that there needs to be three conditions met before it can produce a directive,” says Oliver.

“They said the directive needs to provide added value to the current state of play, there needs to be a consensus among European legal professions, and it must not be contrary to community law.”

He says a draft directive was submitted by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of the EU in 1992 and those conditions were met. “We're wondering why if conditions are set and are met there is still not a product at the end of it.”