Broadly speaking, the various legal professions are as follows :
Judges are the people who will decide your case. They exercise their power independently.
Public prosecution services are mainly involved in criminal cases, but they can also act on behalf of society in certain civil cases, involving adoption, for example, or questions of parentage.
Clerks of the court and registrars are responsible for court administration.
Lawyers advise people who are involved in disputes and represent them in court. In most Member States they can also be appointed by the court to assist or represent people with insufficient funds free of charge. Click on "Legal aid" for further information on this topic.
In some Member States, one of the tasks of a bailiff is to serve writs.
In some cases, you may be allowed to or even required to put your case before someone other than a judge, such as a mediator or an arbitrator. Click on "Alternative methods of dispute resolution" for further information on this topic. 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.
Click on the flags of the Member States to find information about the situation and conditions for exercising a legal profession.
Last update: 17-08-2004