1. Current situation
The recognition of foreign training activities for lawyers (i.e. training pursued by EU lawyers in a Member State other than the one where they are registered) has been an issue discussed for some years by the Council of Bars and Law Societies (CCBE) and its Training Committee.
The CCBE represents over one million European lawyers through their national Bars and Law Societies, and its Training Committee is composed of lawyers who are experts on training issues affecting the legal profession in Europe. A recent product of its work is the CCBE Memorandum on Mutual Recognition of Lawyers’ Cross-Border Continuing Professional Development, signed by 40 European Bars and Law Societies in February 2017. Through this Memorandum, the signatory parties agreed that:
“The number of CPD course hours attended or CPD credits of the training courses obtained by lawyers enrolled in a Bar or Law Society of a member country, should be considered in their signatory jurisdiction of origin to help fulfil their requirements of CPD obligations, in accordance with national, regional or local rules or regulations and without prejudice to each national, regional or local evaluation system.”
The Memorandum was an important step towards mutual recognition; however, in practice the Memorandum expresses a desire, and does not lead to automatic recognition, as the signatory parties will still check the training carried out in another Member State against their own continuing training criteria (which may differ from the criteria and requirements of the state where the training was delivered).
2. Needs that the project aims to address
In order to go to the next stage of recognition of cross-border training, further work needs to be carried out with the objective of easing the recognition process in a cross-border context, to be of benefit to Bars and Law Societies and lawyers.
There will be in-depth research undertaken of the regimes for such training and recognition in the Member States, in order to identify the common points and the points where the regimes do not match. There will then be in-depth discussion of how a system of automatic recognition could be built, in the light of the findings of the research. Finally, an evaluation will be established of how automatic recognition might work in this area.
3. Major objectives to be attained
The project is divided into 3 different phases, and each phase deals with an important objective:
- to complete the research undertaken by the CCBE in 2015 and 2016 on national mandatory continuing training regimes in order to have a full understanding of the current situation of mutual recognition of cross-border training in EU Member States;
- to produce recommendation(s) that will aim at the principle of automatic recognition of training in another Member State;
- to evaluate with Bars and Law Societies of some EU Member States as to how recognition based on the recommendation(s) would work.
Each of these activities, which pursue the specific objective of each phase, will be translated into the project’s deliverables.
4. Target group
The target group of this project are Bars and Law Societies and lawyers since the issue to be addressed is the recognition of training undertaken by lawyers in other EU Member States. This is a very specific issue that affects lawyers and their continuing legal education, and for that reason the project is focused on what Bars and Law Societies may have to put into practice to facilitate the recognition of training pursued by lawyers in other EU Member States other than those where they are registered as lawyers.
The REFOTRA project is implemented by the European Lawyers Foundation and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe.