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).
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.
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.
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.
Current state of play of the REFOTRA project
In the margins of the Phase 1 of the project REFOTRA questionnaire on continuing legal education was developed by a core group, it was supported by the Training committee of CCBE and it was sent to CCBE member Bars on 1 October 2018 (answers are expected before 30 November 2018).
The results of the questionnaire were compiled in the Assessment report on the situation in EU and EEA Member States regarding recognition of foreign training. The report was presented for information to the CCBE Standing committee on 29 March 2019.
Work on Phase 2 of the REFOTRA project has already been finalised and the CCBE’s recommendations on solutions to facilitate the recognition of cross-border training were approved in July 2019.
Phase 3 is currently underway. The proposed certificate template for cross-border CLE training is being tested by volunteer Bars, Law Societies and training providers
‘European Lawyers in Lesvos’ is a joint-project between the CCBE and the DAV (German Bar Association), run in close cooperation with the Greek Bars, which was launched in July 2016, and is expected to last for one year. Its aim is to send volunteer European asylum lawyers to the island of Lesvos to provide preliminary legal assistance to individuals requiring international protection.
More information about the project is available here.
The Find-A-Lawyer 3 project (FAL 3) started on 15 October 2015 and will run for 18 months. FAL 3 will offer the necessary resources for the CCBE to focus on improvements in the FAL 1 Search Engine, the lawyer-search function now housed on the European Commission’s e-justice portal. It will also provide resources for a feasibility study about new functionalities which currently appear in other lawyers’ search engines. At the same time, FAL 3 will fill in the time gap between the delivery of the FAL 2 tool (verification of a lawyer’s role in electronic proceedings) and the go-live date of that project - during that period, the CCBE will undertake the hosting of FAL 2, will provide helpdesk support to participating bars and newcomers, and will perform integration testing with other electronic systems such as e-CODEX. During the FAL 3 implementation period, the CCBE will also attempt to achieve full coverage of FAL 1 and majority coverage among its member bars of FAL 2.
The CCBE, together with the European Lawyers’ Foundation, is working on a project which aims at contributing to the correct and consistent implementation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) again from the point of view of defence practitioners. In particular, the project is focusing on the following objectives:
- Identification of the implementation at national level of the Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European Arrest Warrant in all EU Member States.
- Identification of good practices carried out in the 28 Member States in order to ensure defence rights
- Presentation of recommendations focused on the improvement of defence rights in EAW cases
The project aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the state of play on the implementation of the EAW in the different Member States from the point of view of the defence. The project aims to identify a catalogue of good practices in EAW proceedings in different Member States that can be used by authorities and the defence at a national level to assist with any existing problems. The project will include recommendations which could be of use to the EU institutions when considering future legislation. In any case, the recommendations will also deal with short-term actions that can assist defence rights in EAW proceedings.
The project aims to promote the practical use of, and to share best practice on the organisational, technical and legal aspects of, cross-border videoconferencing in order to help improve the overall functioning of e-Justice systems in Member States and at European level. The project is coordinated by the Austrian Ministry of Justice. The CCBE’s expertise in criminal and civil law allows it to identify cases that benefit from cross-border video-conferencing, and the CCBE seeks to ensure compliance with procedural rights and duties of the parties.
The project is due to end in September 2016.
EVIDENCE aims at providing a road map (guidelines, recommendations, and technical standards) for developing the missing Common European Framework for the systematic and uniform application of new technologies in the collection, use and exchange of evidence. The road map will incorporate standardised solutions enabling more efficient regulation, treatment and exchange of digital evidence by law enforcement agencies as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers practising in the criminal field. The CCBE contributed to the elaboration of e.g. data protection issues, mapping of obstacles and facilitating factors, and existing standards for treatment and exchange of electronic evidence.
The project is due to end in September 2016.
The CCBE, together with the European Lawyers’ Foundation, worked on a project which aimed at achieving a comprehensive analysis of the implementation at a national level (in the countries where the Directives apply) of the following three Directives (from the point of view of defence practitioners):
- Directive 2010/64 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings;
- Directive 2012/13) on the Right to information in criminal proceedings; and
- Directive 2013/48 on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in European arrest warrant proceedings, and on the right to have a third party informed upon deprivation of liberty and to communicate with third persons and with consular authorities while deprived of liberty.
The project lasted from 15 April 2015 to 14 April 2016. The report itself is 80 pages long and the annexes (which contain the original responses to the questionnaires) are a further 270 pages.
The report contains an analysis of the Directives and identifies good practices and recommendations (see pages 6-9 for the recommendations).
The full report can be found here.
The CCBE participated in the e-CODEX project which, among other things, aimed at linking national e-justice systems to each other to permit electronic communication exchange to facilitate the participation of lawyers in cross-border e-proceedings. In 2015, e-CODEX further developed its pilot phase and increased the testing of its use cases. The CCBE initiated a new use case in e-CODEX on lawyer-to-court communication, i.e. the European Payment Order (EPO), sent by lawyers. This use case was linked to the FAL 2 project, since the electronic identity of the lawyers sending the EPO has to be validated.
The project ended in June 2016.
More information about the project can be found here.