October 2013

Commission Conference on "A Single Market for Lawyers"
On 28 October, DG Internal Market of the European Commission is hosting a major conference for lawyers in the EU which will focus on the issues raised in / by the recent study (by the University of Maastricht and Panteia) on the operation of the EU legal framework applicable to lawyers, including the Establishment and Services directives. Further information, including on registration, is available at: http://bit.ly/1elSpTA. For the Panteia study on the "Evaluation of the Legal Framework for the Free Movement of Lawyers", see: http://bit.ly/19ZOOLt.

The executive summary can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/164XyMj.

EU Workshop at Annual Bar Conference, 2 November 2013
The Bar's EU Law Committee, the European Circuit and the Bar European Group are co-organising a workshop at this year's Bar Conference that will examine, from the point of view of the Bar, the impact of the UK's uneasy relationship with the EU in the context of current developments such as the 2014 opt-out and the balance of competences review. The last two Annual Bar Conference EU workshops were a great success. 

Reminder - Bar Chairman to speak at major justice conference in Brussels
Earlier this year the European Commission published the first Justice Scoreboard, which examines the justice systems across the Member States and seeks to identify the parameters that make for an effective justice system. As part of its 'Justice for Growth' strategy, the EU institutions will be looking not only at how to maximise the effectiveness of national systems in the coming years, but also at what else needs to be done in the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) field at EU level.

To that end, the Commission is organizing a high level conference in Brussels on 21 and 22 November 2013, bringing together policy makers, members of the judiciary and the legal professions from the Member States, to debate future policy. The Chairman of the Bar is speaking on the panel about challenges and policy developments that might enhance mutual trust in the criminal justice field. See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/events/assises-justice-2013/index_en.htm

European Parliament workshop on Judicial training
The European Parliament's (EP) Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) is holding a workshop entitled 'The training of legal practitioners: teaching EU law and judge craft' on the morning of 28 November 2013 in Brussels. The workshop comprises two panel sessions; the first looking at some best practices in the learning of, and access to, EU Law, and the second at improving mutual trust. Details will be available on the JURI website, at: http://bit.ly/13L2tib.

HMG's Balance of Competences Review 2013 - 2014
The Government two-year-long, detailed review of who does what between the EU and the UK across the range of competences, which was launched in the summer 2012, is due to be completed at the end of next year. Each semester, HMG is publishing a set of calls for evidence on specific topics, based on which open-ended reports are published. The list and sequencing of reports is provided in a table, which is kept up-to-date, on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website: https://www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-ofcompetences. Note that all of the reports based on the responses to the first semester calls are now available.

After careful consideration, the Bar has taken the policy decision to respond, so far as practicable in terms of time and resources, to the calls of particular and wide-ranging relevance to us, and with a focus on identifying legal issues. To date, the Bar has responded as a profession to two of the calls:

  • The first semester call entitled 'A synoptic review of the internal market' - we provided a narrow response looking at the Commission's expansive use of the Treaty legal basis in this area. Our response can be seen at: http://bit.ly/17phA3A, and as mentioned above, the government report on the topic is now out, and
  • The second semester call on Civil Judicial Cooperation - the Bar's wide-ranging response, including specific input from the Family Law Bar Association, was submitted to HMG in early August. Our response can be seen at: /media/223693/civil_justice_review_bar_council_response_5_ugust_2013.pdf.

Lords inquiry on the content of the future EU JHA Work Programme
The EU institutions are starting work devising a new five-year Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) work programme, covering the period 2015-2019, which will replace the Stockholm Programme 2009-2014. It is likely to be agreed under the Italian Presidency in late 2014, and accordingly is being dubbed the 'Rome Programme'.

At the end of July, the House of Lords Home Affairs, Health & Education EU Sub-Committee launched an inquiry that considers the possible content of this new work programme, with a deadline for written evidence of 16 October 2013. The Bar hopes to respond; see: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/eu-home-affairssub-committee-f-/news/rome-cfe/.

European Public Prosecutor's Office - proposal to create it adopted
The Commission's proposal for a regulation setting up the EPPO was finally adopted in mid-July, with the aim of its being operational by 1 January 2015. The proposal emerged as part of a package of measures, which also included a proposal for a regulation on the reform of the European Union's Agency for criminal justice cooperation (Eurojust) and a communication on the governance of the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). As expected, the proposal is far-reaching in its ambition for the Office, whilst relying heavily on the resources of the Member States. It also provides defence safeguards going beyond what is currently agreed at EU level.

See the proposal for a regulation creating the EPPO here: http://bit.ly/17E3psk, the proposal for regulation to reform EUROJUST here: http://bit.ly/14qavC5, and the complete package of measures here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/criminal/news/130717_en.htm.

Protocol 36 to the Lisbon Treaty - the UK chooses to exercise the opt-out
Readers are aware of the background and issues involved in the decision that has to be taken before 1 June 2014, as to whether or not the UK will opt-out of a block of approximately 130 pre-Lisbon Treaty EU criminal justice measures; and if it does, whether and how it could opt back into some of them on an individual basis. The Bar was among many stakeholders who responded to the House of Lords' EU Sub-Committees' joint inquiry into the opt-out decision, which resulted in the House of Lords' late April report, stating unequivocally that the government had not made its case for the opt-out. Since then however, both Houses have voted to support the government's desired line, so it has formally notified the Council of Ministers that the UK is invoking the Protocol 36 opt-out (see: http://bit.ly/15JbUxu) and indicated that it would provide a shopping-list of would-be opt-back-ins in the autumn. Work is now underway on that list, and the Bar will input when and where practicable.

Patents - proposed amendments to the Brussels I regulation
In late July, the Commission adopted a proposal (Procedure reference COD(2013)0268) to amend the recast Brussels I regulation (Regulation 1215/2012) (itself the subject of a full revision during 2010-12) to clarify how its jurisdictional rules will work in the context of the Unified Patent Court, as well as how the rules of the Regulation should be applied in relations between the Member States which are Parties to the Unified Patent Court Agreement and the Member States not party to the Agreement. For the proposal, see: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/civil/files/com_2013_554_en.pdf.

Banking Union - Proposal for a resolution mechanism
The Commission has adopted its controversial proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for the Banking Union. The mechanism is intended to complement the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) (IP/12/953) which, once operational (foreseen for late 2014), will see the European Central Bank (ECB) directly supervise banks in the euro area and in other Member States which decide to join the Banking Union. We will see what the other EU institutions make of it. For general information see: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/bankingunion/index_en.htm.

Updating of EU and national trade mark laws. In late March 2013, the Commission adopted two related legislative proposals:

  • A regulation to update and amend Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 on the Community Trademark (Procedural Reference (COD(2013)0088, and
  • A directive to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (Recast) (Procedure reference COD(2013)0089.

The idea is modernise the law in this area and bring it up to speed with recent business
developments. The EP's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) has published a short appraisal of the Commission's impact assessment behind the two proposals. See: http://bit.ly/1aTSVIL.

The EP's Internal Market Committee has issued a draft opinion on each of the proposals, which make detailed suggestions for improvements, and can be seen at: http://www.europarl. europa.eu/committees/en/imco/draft-opinions.html#menuzone.