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Luxembourg's Linguistic Requirements For Lawyers Contravene EU Law

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

22 September 2006


Ruling on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) stated that laws in place in Luxembourg which require lawyers to be proven competent in the language of a jurisdiction in order to be allowed to practice there contravene EU law.

In order to practise the profession of lawyer in Luxembourg, national law lays down a condition that a lawyer must 'be proficient in the language of statutory provisions as well as the administrative and court languages’, and requires a prior test of that knowledge.

The dispute centred on UK barrister, Graham Wilson, a UK national, who has practised the profession of lawyer in Luxembourg since 1994.

In 2003, Mr Wilson refused to attend an oral hearing with the Luxembourg Bar Council in order to assess his linguistic knowledge. As a consequence, the Bar Council refused to register him on the register of lawyers practising under their home-country professional title.

Mr Wilson challenged that decision by bringing an action for annulment before the Higher Administrative Court, which asked the Court of Justice of the European Communities whether the directive on the practice of the profession of lawyer allows the host Member State to make the right of a lawyer to practise his profession on a permanent basis in that Member State under his home-country professional title subject to a test of his proficiency in the languages of that Member State.

The ECJ concluded that:

"Every lawyer has the right to practise on a permanent basis in any Member State under his home-country professional title without a prior test of his language skills."

More detail on the European Court of Justice ruling on Luxembourg's linguistic requirements for lawyers can be found in the Tax News Resources section.

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