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Last update: 27-02-2008
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Legal professions - Community law

The European Union makes it easier to work as a lawyer in another Member State.

The Member States of the European Union regulate the legal professions.

Although there may be natural similarities between them, these regulations differ quite substantially from one country to another because they reflect the continuation of often ancient traditions.

Community law does not regulate the conditions for exercising the legal professions.

However, two European directives, one from 1988 and the other from 1998, set out the conditions in which a lawyer who has qualified in one Member State can exercise his profession on a permanent basis in another.

The 1998 Directive in particular states that any lawyer may pursue his profession on a permanent basis in any other Member State under his home-country professional title. The host Member State may also make acceptance into the profession of lawyer subject to certain conditions. In principle, a lawyer who has practised in the host country under his home-country professional title for three years should be integrated in the same way as a lawyer from that country.

It should again be pointed out that the rules governing the profession are still the responsibility of the Member States. In other words, a lawyer from one Member State may establish himself in another Member State and practise law there on a permanent basis but he must comply with all the rules and regulations of the host country.

The Commission has also tabled a green paper on alternative dispute resolution, which asks questions and offers bases for discussion regarding the role of mediator or arbitrator.

Finally, the development of the mutual recognition principle requires more direct contact between the judicial authorities of the Member States and a growing need for judicial training arises. In June 2006, the Commission issued a communication in order to prepare a European strategy on judicial training.


On 4th February 2008 the Commission has organized an experts meeting in Brussels on judicial training attended by Judges, Prosecutors, lawyers, governmental authorities and national judicial training bodies as well as international stakeholders for a first discussion on how best to develop a common European legal culture.

Moreover, the same day, the Commission has adopted a communication - 'Creation of a Forum for Discussing EU Justice Polices and Practice' (COM/2008/38 final).

The rationale for the Justice Forum is to involve practitioners who deal with the implementation, enforcement and consequences of JLS policies to be involved in a continuing dialogue with JLS. The Forum will comprise of practitioners, including judges at various levels, civil and criminal lawyers, prosecutors and other practitioners working in the justice systems of the Member States. Importantly, other relevant parties, such as academics and representatives of NGOs working in this field will also be involved. The individuals will be stakeholders from Member States providing their views and experience but not representing Member States.

Reference documents .

  • Communication from the Commission on the creation of a Forum for discussing EU justice policies and practice (COM/2008/38 final)
  • Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on judicial training in the European Union (COM/2006/0356 final)
  • Green paper on alternative dispute resolution in civil and commercial law
  • Directive 98/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 to facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained

    Amended by Directive 2001/19/EC

  • Directive 89/48/EEC of 21 December 1988 on a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years' duration

    Amended by Directive 2001/19/EC

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Last update: 27-02-2008

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