The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has held that Member States cannot restrict registration of lawyers from other EU States and any conditions imposed on professional practice must be proportionate.
This case was brought by Greek monk Monachos Eirinaios who requested to join the Athens Bar Association in 2015 after completing his professional qualification in Cyprus. The Athens Bar Association rejected his application on the grounds of national provisions relating to incompatibility between the profession of a lawyer and the status of a monk. Mr. Eirinaios challenged that decision before the Council of State, who then asked the Court of Justice of the European Union whether it was compatible with EU legislation to prohibit an individual from registering, despite having obtained a professional qualification from another State.
In its judgement the Court provided an interpretation of Directive 98/5/EC which allows for qualified lawyers in the EU to practice in a Member State outside of the one in which the qualification was obtained. The Court outlined that the Directive establishes a mechanism for the recognition of professional qualifications and titles obtained by migrant lawyers wishing to practice under the qualification obtained in their home State.
The Court held that if presenting a certificate of full qualification to the relevant authority of the host Member State is the only condition to which the individual seeking registration may be subject to, a national legislature cannot add further conditions to registration with the relevant authority. However, it was then outlined that a distinction must be drawn between registration with the relevant authority and actually practicing as a lawyer within a given State, in which case a lawyer is subject to that Member State’s rules of professional conduct. As such, a legislature can ensure harmonisation of rules of conduct but only where proportionate and not beyond what is necessary to attain the objectives pursued.
In conclusion, the Court found that the national legislation which prohibits a monk who has the status of a lawyer from registering with the relevant authority in a Member State, outside of that in which the individual qualified is contrary to the Directive set out by the European Union.
To read full judgement please click here.