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Free movement in the EU

1 January 04

Note of European Court decision concerning free movement of trainee lawyers within the EU

On 13 November 2003, the European Court handed down a judgment (Case 303/01) in a case concerning the free movement of trainee lawyers within the EU – see The case concerned a French national who undertook her legal studies in France. She worked briefly as a trainee lawyer in France before moving to Genoa in Italy. She then sought to enrol with the local bar as a trainee lawyer. This was refused on the basis that she had no Italian legal qualifications recognised by an Italian university. The ECJ held that the Lawyers’ Establishment Directive and the Diplomas Directive do not apply as these only apply to qualified lawyers. However, articles 39 and 43 of the Treaty (on free movement of workers and establishment) are applicable. As a result, for trainee lawyers, exercising their right of freedom of movement, the host state is obliged to make an overall assessment taking account of skills, experience and studies to date and grant exemptions as appropriate. [From the Society’s Brussels office]