Services Package: Developments in the European Parliament

July 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

(1) IMCO draft report: proportionality test proposal

At the end of June, MEP Andreas Schwab published his draft report on the proportionality test proposal of the European Commission. [The Commission proposal aims at setting up a common framework for conducting proportionality tests when introducing new regulation of professions.] The rapporteur considers that the proposal should not be an instrument of mere ‘de-regulation’ but that the added value of professional regulation should be recognised by putting an emphasis on smart regulation which can further economic growth in the EU.

As far as education and training is concerned, the draft report clarifies / highlights that:

– “the rules concerning professional education and training remain within the competence of Member States, especially concerning the possibility to delegate this task to professional organisations. However, according to established case-law, if those activities are remunerated, free movement should be guaranteed in particular as regards the conditions required for accessing professional training (Case C-313/01 Morgenbesser).” (recital 7b (new))

– “Member States should enjoy a margin of appreciation within which they are able to determine the degree of protection which they wish to afford, and if necessary to strengthen the regulation in place. The fact that one Member State imposes less strict rules than another Member State does not mean that the latter Member State’s rules are disproportionate and therefore incompatible with Union law.” (recital 12)

– “The introduction of additional requirements might be suitable to attain the public interest objectives. (…) For example, the obligation to undergo continuous professional development might be suitable to ensure that professionals keep abreast of developments in their respective areas, as long as it does not lay down discriminatory and disproportionate conditions to the detriment of new entrants. Likewise, compulsory chamber membership should be considered appropriate where professional organisations are entrusted by the State with safeguarding the relevant public interest objectives, for example in supervising the legitimate practice of the profession, or organising or supervising continuous professional training; (…) (recital 20a (new))

(2) Workshop on ‘Reforming professional services’, 11 July 2017

Under the chairmanship of MEP Nicola Danti, two expert panels considered ‘economic effects of regulating professional services’ and ‘recommendations for policy -makers’.

The CCBE was represented by the chair of the EU Lawyers committee, Hugh Mercer, who pointed out that professional rules (such as independence, competence, confidentiality) are necessary to ensure standards and attitudes of professionals to uphold the rule of law. He deplored that ‘free movement of service providers’ is not taken into account in the restrictiveness indicator of the Services Package, noting that the lawyer’s profession has been at the forefront of the free movement of lawyers in Europe. The CCBE also adopted a memorandum of mutual recognition of continuous training activities and furthermore it shares information on disciplinary proceedings in the Member States. The CCBE also discusses innovation and the future of the legal profession and will soon publish its e-book of last year’s conference. Hugh Mercer emphasised that it is not (always) possible for clients to evaluate the quality of services and, therefore, regulation is needed.

The Commission was represented by Martin Frohn who presented the Commission’s work within the framework of the Services Package. In his presentation, he referred to several examples of restrictions identified by the Commission, including reserved activities, noting inter alia: ‘Legal advice of any kind is reserved to lawyers in many Member States hindering other legal consultancy services, in particular online services’. The OECD’s presentation on “No jobs for old lawyers? Disruptive innovations in legal services” specifically focused on lawyers: disruptive innovation – what’s happening in the legal services; the scope of regulatory restrictions and recent reforms in Member States (France and UK/upcoming reforms in Portugal); rationale of regulation – does it still apply?.

For more information, please see presentations-here and recordings-here.

Data collection for the 2016-2018 CEPEJ evaluation cycle

July 3rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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Source: CEPEJ website

In June, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) started collecting data for its next report on the  functioning of European judicial systems. The exercise also covers lawyers, including the training of lawyers:

151. Is there a specific initial training and/or exam to enter the profession of lawyer?

If not, please indicate if there are other specific requirements as regards diplomas or university degrees.

152. Is there a mandatory general system for lawyers requiring in-service professional training?

153. Is the specialisation in some legal fields linked to specific training, levels of qualification, specific diploma or specific authorisations?

The collection of the data from 2016 will end on 31 December 2017. It will then serve as basis for the preparation of the evaluation report which will be published in autumn 2018.

For more information see: evaluation grid and explanatory note.

2017 HELP Network Conference: “HELP for Friendly Justice”

June 26th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

A summary on this year’s conference has been published on the HELP website, click here.

Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stated in the opening remarks to the Plenary:

“Lawyers, prosecutors and judges also need training if they are to stay abreast of developments in the evolution of human rights, not least in a context where the human rights challenges facing our member states are fast evolving”.

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Group photo from the HELP Annual Network Conference, © Council of Europe

UN Human Rights Council Resolutions on Judges and Lawyers

June 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

During its session from 6-23 June 2017, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolutions on the independence of the judiciary and lawyers, inluding the following:

11. Calls upon States, in collaboration with relevant national entities such as bar associations, associations of judges and prosecutors, and educational institutions, to provide adequate training, including human rights training, for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, both on initial appointment and periodically throughout their careers, taking into account regional and international human rights law and, where applicable and relevant, the concluding observations and decisions of human rights mechanisms, such as treaty bodies and regional human rights courts;

The full document can be download here.

European Parliament: IMCO workshop on ‘Reforming professional services’ postponed to 11 July 2017

June 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The workshop which was supposed to take place on 20 June 2017 (see post of 8 June 2017) has now been postponed to 11 July 2017 (9.30-12.30).

The CCBE will be represented at the workshop by Hugh Mercer, chair of the CCBE EU Lawyers Committee.

2017 HELP Network Conference: ‘HELP for Friendly Justice’

June 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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HELP has now published the programme for this year’s conference which will take place on 19-20 June 2017 in Strasbourg. More information on the conference can be downloaded from the HELP website, please click here.

European Parliament: IMCO workshop on Reforming professional services

June 8th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The workshop will take place on 20 June 2017, 15.00-18.30, in Brussels.

Two expert panels will focus on economic effects of regulating professional services and recommendations for policy-makers (see here).

More information will be available in the coming days.

Related post(s): European Commission Services Package

England and Wales: A new route to qualification

June 8th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has launched a consultation which seeks stakeholder views on the regulations needed to bring the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) framework into force. (The SQE is designed to test whether individuals who wish to be admitted as solicitors have the skills and knowledge set out in the Statement of Solicitor Competence.)

The consultation document can be downloaded here:

Consultation paper (7 pages)

Annex 1 – Draft regulations (3 pages)

Annex 2 – Draft Principles (6 pages)

The consultation is open until 26 July 2017.

Once the SQE is introduced, aspiring solicitors will have to meet the following requirements:

– They must have a degree or equivalent qualification or experience.

– They must have passed the SQE, to demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills set out in the Statement of Solicitor Competence, to the standard prescribed in the Threshold Standard.

– They must have completed qualifying legal work experience, for at least two years (or part time equivalent), and which can be certified by either a solicitor or a compliance officer for legal practice.

– They must be of satisfactory character and suitability, to be assessed at the point of admission

Previous post(s) on this theme: England and Wales: SRA to launch Super-Exam in 2020

Services Package & Proportionality Test: Council agrees on a General Approach

June 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Please click here to read the General Approach concerning the Commission proposed ‘Proportionality Test’ Directive. [The proposed directive sets a common framework for conducting proportionality assessments before introducing new, or amending existing, legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions restricting access to or pursuit of regulated professions.] The parts which are of particular interest  from a ‘training’ perspective have been highlighted by the CCBE in yellow.

The European Parliament has also started work on the proposal. The IMCO committee had a first exchange of views on the proposal on 11 May 2017. Several MEPs, including the rapporteur Andreas Schwab, raised on this occasion the question as to whether there is a need for this proposal – first and foremost, the Commission should seek to strengthen the enforcement of existing legislation. (IMCO timetable: 12/13 July – presentation of draft report; 5 September – deadline for amendements; 28 September – vote of amendments; 21/22 November – vote in the Plenary.)

For more information on the Services Package, please consult the post published on 10 January 2017.

Fundamental Rights Report 2017

May 30th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has published today its ‘Fundamental Rights Report 2017’. The Agency notes, amongst others, that “courts, parliaments and governments continued to make only limited use of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, but awareness of the need to train legal professionals on Charter-related issues appeared to be growing.” Section 1.3.2 deals specificaly with the ‘Training related to the Charter’. Accordingly, “2016 offers a more active picture. There appears to be an understanding that, the better legal practitioners are trained, the better the services they deliver. (…) Forty-five Charter-relevant training programmes in 22 EU Member States were reported for 2016. (…) About two thirds of the identified training events targeted legal practitioners.”

The full report can be downloaded here.