2 April - At its Standing Committee in Brussels on March 22nd, the CCBE took the decision to continue working towards a Uniform Code of Conduct for European bars, through further research and consideration of possible alternative ways forward.
The Delegations discussed current issues regarding the appointment of Judges to the General Court of the EU in Luxembourg; and agreed to address these concerns to the Court in writing (the letter sent to the Member States of the EU is available here.
The draft CCBE response to the new money laundering directive published in January will be brought for approval to the next Plenary Session, together with an impact assessment of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Michaud case, and its consequences on the reporting filter of suspicious transactions through the President of the Bar.
The Standing Committee approved the responses to two stakeholder consultations published by the European Commission: on the cross-border transfers of registered offices of companies, and the improvement of a questionnaire aimed at collecting data on the training of lawyers in EU and other Member States’ law.
Also noted, a recent European Commission report on the training of lawyers across Europe, as well as the outcome of a recent Court of Justice case (Case C-1/12 Ordem dos Técnicos Oficiais de Contas) on the relationship between competition law and the involvement of a professional organisation in the provision of professional education within a mandatory continuing education system.
The Delegations were presented with the new statistical pocketbook “Legal Profession: key figures of six countries of the European Union”, published by the Observatoire du Conseil national des barreaux in Paris. Gathering data from Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy and Spain, it allows for clear comparisons across legal systems and offers an overview on a number of issues such as number and density per population of lawyers, average income, and gender representation. The study is available online.
The next Plenary Session of the CCBE will be held in Athens on May 17th-18th.
11 February – At its Standing Committee in Vienna on February 7th, the CCBE discussed its policy regarding the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office and submitted its concerns pertaining to the legislative proposal which is expected later this year.
The European Commission is planning to submit a proposal on the creation of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) to prosecute fraud against the EU’s financial interests. Consultations are being held with stakeholders, and the CCBE has outlined the views of defence practitioners in a meeting with the Commission.
Delegations also discussed the need to promote gender equality within Bars and law firms. CCBE President Evangelos Tsouroulis has made the fight against gender bias a priority of his presidency, focusing on inequality in the fields of law, employment, business and family issues. With the debate now open, the CCBE will develop a position in the future.
The Standing Committee adopted an overview on Corporate Social Responsibility, as global developments on this issue affect law firms in their capacity as businesses. The CCBE intends to use this overview to develop a position to raise awareness within the profession.
In addition, delegations had a first look at the European Commission proposal for a revised Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which was unveiled last week. The text will continue to impact on the legal profession. More will follow, with a position paper to be adopted in March.
The next Standing Committee of the CCBE will be held in Brussels on March 22nd.
17 December – The CCBE organised a debate on “The Common European Sales Law - lawyers buying into the process” in Brussels, with the keynote speech given by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. The CCBE used this occasion officially to present its position to the Commissioner. The CCBE received very direct replies to its recommendations to improve the proposed text. The aim of the debate was also to stimulate dialogue as to how the proposed Regulation for a CESL should be taken forward, after having raised divergent reactions from various stakeholders across Europe. The event was well attended by a variety of participants, indeed mostly lawyers, but also representatives of the EU Institutions and of other NGOs. The discussions confirmed that lawyers largely support the CESL and that this is felt to be necessary for the success of the proposed instrument since they will be the ones advising their clients about it. The text of the speeches that were delivered will soon be available on this page.
6 December 2012 – The CCBE President participated in the annual Fundamental Rights Conference in Brussels, organised jointly by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union and the European Parliament. Here a link to this event. Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser spoke in the panel on ‘Justice in times of austerity: opportunity for reform?’.
30 November 2012 –The CCBE 117th Plenary Session was held in Strasbourg, for the first time ever at the European Court of Human Rights. The new President of the Court, Dean Spielmann delivered a speech (link to follow possibly) in which he welcomed a strengthening of the relations between the CCBE and the Court.
Also speaking were:
At this Plenary, the CCBE:
The day before the Plenary Session, the CCBE organised a roundtable, also at the European Court of Human Rights. The topics were:
More information on this event will soon be available here.
7 September 2012 –The CCBE Standing Committee held in Cyprus approved the following documents:
The Standing Committee was opened by a speech by the Cyprus Attorney General, Mr Petros Clerides, in which he presented the priorities of the Cyprus Presidency of the EU in the area of justice.
3 July 2012 – In a letter (in French) to the Belgian Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, the CCBE has expressed support for the criticism from the Belgian Bars that the reduction in financing of legal aid risks excluding more vulnerable persons from access to legal aid.
22 June – At its Standing Committee in Brussels, the CCBE adopted its comments on the proposed Regulation on the Statute for a European Foundation. We are satisfied that the European Commission’s proposal meets all the concerns highlighted by the CCBE in an earlier consultation. Nevertheless we felt it necessary to make further general comments and specific remarks with regard to some articles.
20 June 2012 – In a press release, the CCBE says it is alarmed by the recent EU Council’s position of 8 June regarding the proposed Directive on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and on the right to communicate upon arrest. In particular, the CCBE urges the European Parliament to oppose the erosion by the Council of the citizens’ right to confidentiality. In stark contrast to the original proposal from the Commission, the Council's text of 8 June falls dramatically below the standards set by the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, including internationally accepted standards in relation to the right of access to a lawyer and legal assistance, thus turning the proposed measure into the very opposite of its intended purpose.
12 June 2012 – In a press release, the CCBE welcomes the adopted Regulation on the settlement of international successions, in particular in that it recognizes that in some Member States legally binding instruments in matters of succession are drawn up by legal professionals other than notaries.
11 May 2012 – The CCBE Plenary Session in Vienna started with video-messages from Othmar Karas, MEP and Viviane Reding, Vice-Presidents respectively of the European Parliament and the European Commission. In his message, Mr Karas stressed the need to think ‘more European‘ when considering fundamental rights and the rule of law, and he thanked the CCBE for its support in this area. Ms Reding acknowledged the need to safeguard the independence of justice in the context of economic and financial reforms, yet underlined the need for some countries to modernize their systems. In particular, she highlighted the importance of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and mediation to reduce backlog, reduce costs and improve access to justice, and said she counted on the CCBE’s support.
At the same Plenary, the main elements of the CCBE response on the proposed Directive on ADR and proposed Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) for consumer disputes were approved. The text of the response is available here.
A report on CCBE policy for future projects was also approved.
11 April 2012 – Together with the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (the Italian Bar Association), the CCBE organised a conference in Rome on “The proposed Common European Sales Law – the lawyers’ view”. The aim of the conference was to promote a debate among legal practitioners regarding the main legal issues of the proposal. Speaking at the conference were Luigi Berlinguer, Co-Rapporteur at the European Parliament, and Dirk Staudenmayer, Head of the relevant Unit at the European Commission, as well as expert lawyers from different jurisdictions across Europe. The conference was characterised by a lively and fruitful debate, with both Mr Berlinguer and Mr Staudenmayer showing openness to different viewpoints.
In her opening address, Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser recalled the CCBE’s early interest in a European contract law and its call, already in 2009, for EU sales law applicable in business-to-business and business-to-consumer contracts and not limited to cross-border contracts. She said that, whilst there is no CCBE position yet on the Commission’s proposal and some CCBE members are less favourable to the idea, the proposal is consonant with past CCBE positions on European contract law. She stressed that the doubts recently expressed by the CCBE about the validity of the legal basis chosen would not stop it from actively contributing, as was shown by the organisation of this conference.
30 March – A brochure, “Standing up for Justice and the Rule of Law”, informs stakeholders of the CCBE’s main concerns and activities in 2012 in this area.
30 March 2012 – At its Standing Committee in Brussels, the CCBE adopted its position on the proposals of the European Commission on the following:
14 March - 14 of the world’s major international organisations representing the legal profession (including the CCBE) presented the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, with a joint letter in support of the lawyers of Syria, reportedly being harassed, imprisoned and abused for participating in peaceful dissent or representing Syrian citizens involved in protests.
16 February 2012 – At its Standing Committee in Vienna, the CCBE decided to request to be allowed to intervene in the ‘Michaud’ case at the European Court of Human Rights, in which for the first time the question is raised of the compatibility of the lawyer’s suspicious reporting duties under the money laundering legislation with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The CCBE adopted:
24 January – The CCBE welcomes the publication of the Defendants’ Rights Factsheets by the European Commission on the e-Justice portal. These factsheets were prepared by the CCBE working together with experienced criminal defence lawyers, the CCBE's member Bars, Ministries of Justice and qualified legal translators. Read the CCBE press release.
11 January – The CCBE sent a letter to the Prime Minister and to the Justice Minister of Ireland concerning the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 and how it affects the independence of the lawyers’ profession in Ireland.
9 January 2012 – The CCBE met with members of Commissioner Viviane Reding’s cabinet. The first part of the meeting was jointly with representatives of the Irish Bar Council and Law Society, to discuss our concerns regarding the Legal Services Regulation Bill in Ireland.
21 December 2011 – Jointly with the American Bar Association (ABA), the CCBE wrote a letter to the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to express their growing concern about the independence of the legal profession in a number of European countries. It is indeed a disturbing trend in places like Greece, Ireland and Portugal where the economic crisis and the intervention of the Troika have led Governments to propose radical reforms of the legal profession.
Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser, CCBE President in 2012
At its last Plenary Session in 2011, the CCBE has elected Dr. Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser, formerly First Vice-President, as its President for 2012.
Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser is an Austrian lawyer, partner of Prunbauer & Romig, Vienna. A CCBE Vice-President since 2010, she is also Vice-President of the Austrian Bar and a member of the Vienna Bar Council. Her main practice areas are: intellectual property law, trademarks, unfair competition, general corporate law and international transactions. She is a lecturer at the Austrian Lawyers Academy and was formerly a lecturer at the Vienna Business School.
Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser will be assisted by three Vice-Presidents: Evangelos Tsouroulis (Greece), Aldo Bulgarelli (Italy) and Maria Ślązak (Poland).
The main challenges of the CCBE under her presidency will include the following: the definition of minimum common procedural rights for suspects and defendants in Europe, in particular as regards the right of access to a lawyer and its connection with the right to legal aid; upholding the confidentiality of lawyer-client communications wherever it is threatened, particularly in anti-money laundering initiatives expected in 2012; lobbying on reforms imposed by the ECB-European Commission-IMF ‘Troika’ on bail-out countries which affect the principle of self-regulation of the lawyers’ profession; fair participation of lawyers in European judicial training initiatives; mutual recognition of legal acts in Europe; and the modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive.