The chief work of the CCBE is to develop policies within its democratic structure in response to current issues. Through a combination of the specialist committees, the Standing Committee, Plenary Session, the presidency and secretariat, the CCBE develops a wide range of policies on topics currently of concern to European lawyers. These policies might arise out of a consultation document from the European Commission, a draft directive, a case before the European Court of Justice or European Court of Human Rights, or a difficulty arising in the course of cross-border legal practice.
Below are some of the ways in which CCBE policies are developed and promoted.
The CCBE publishes position papers addressing EU legislation and initiatives which impact upon the legal profession or upon the users of legal services. These papers cover such disparate issues as competition, money-laundering, the core values of the profession, the rate of VAT on legal services, organised crime, and the ramifications of a European constitution. The position papers are freely available in English and French on this website.
A milestone in the CCBE's development was the adoption of the CCBE Code of Conduct in 1988, after six years of drafting and consultation. It was needed to help resolve cross-border conflicts between Europe's widely varying national codes. The Code governs professional contacts between lawyers within the European Community and the activities of lawyers working in member states other than their own.
The Code is binding only when adopted by a particular bar. CCBE members and observers have done this, making it the applicable code for EU cross-border activities. Moreover, the Code has been recognised by the European Commission and European courts and is beginning to be treated as authoritative by national courts.
The Code is a framework of principles covering professional independence, client confidentiality, advertising of services, and behaviour towards clients, courts and other lawyers. Since its debut, and through two subsequent revisions, it has been widely adopted across Europe, has helped resolve differences between national codes, and has greatly facilitated the cross-border movement of legal services.
The CCBE also has a Charter of Core Principles, which are a set of Europe-wide principles to be adopted by national bars in their own domestic setting.
For lawyers active outside their home jurisdiction, the CCBE card facilitates access to courts and institutions. It is recognised by the European Court of Justice and Court of First Instance.
In the official languages of the CCBE, the card identifies the cardholder as a lawyer in one of the Member States. Cards are issued in the CCBE's name by national bars and law societies to their authorised members, according to the conditions laid down in each member state.
The CCBE possesses an extensive and unique database. Some of this statistical information is published on this website. It includes annual breakdowns by country of its member numbers and by gender.
Several times throughout the year, at plenary sessions and international legal conferences, the CCBE President will speak on matters of major concern to the CCBE.
Some of these speeches can be read in English and/or French on this website.