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Who will control company lawyers?
The text of the draft law on services and professional schools, whose referral to the Council of Ministers for the time being left for after the summer, is not yet closed, according to sources of the Ministry of Economy. However, the General Council of the Spanish Legal profession (CGAE) does not hereby waive its disagreement with the last known version, dated July 7, and that the department that directs Luis de Guindos does not recognize as an officer.
The apple of discord is the measure by which lawyers who have a working relationship with their client, the so-called business attorneys, will be excluded from compulsory association. “In this way, certain guarantees offered by the compulsory association, like the control or the ordination of the profession, would be in Frank regression”, argues the spokesman of the CGAE, Lucas Blanche. “When they become business consultants and are not collegiate, these professionals will cease to have a code of ethics and will be governed by the law of the market and by the power of their client, the entrepreneur, in its full extent,” he explains.
Sources of the Ministry of Economy confirm that this measure will surely be included in the final text, and allege that the company itself already monitors the actions of its lawyers, which makes the association unnecessary, because in the case that the lawyer commits a Mistake, it will be the same company who sanctions you.
According to Blanche, the government wants to adapt Spanish legislation to the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Community, and especially to the AZKO judgment. In it, the European magistrates established that, in the face of the actions of the competition authorities, the company lawyers cannot wield the professional secrecy in the same way as if they did not have a company as a client, he says. “It is a sentence that has been dictated in a very specific area, the right of competition,” he says; Too concrete to extrapolate a general rule. “We will follow the example of France, which is the only country in the EU Member States where corporate lawyers should not be collegiate. It does not seem to us the most advisable way,” he adds.
Another aspect of the preliminary draft on which attention – and some hostility – has been noted by the Agency of maximum representation of the legal profession has been the possible unification of the system of access to the professions of lawyers and solicitors. “While the economy seems to be betting on compatible professions, the Ministry of Justice, through its draft reform of the Civil Procedure Act, tends to limit this compatibility,” says Blanche. However, this “tension” between departments of the same executive – “That does not benefit the professions”, in his words-does not exist, according to sources of economy. In fact, the issue would have already been resolved by leaving the separation between the functions of the lawyer and the procurator unchanged. The same sources also contradict the possibility of social graduates acting as Labour lawyers.
“It is true that this does not appear in the preliminary draft explicitly,” concedes Blanche. “But it could be deduced from the reading of two paragraphs of an additional provision of future regulation. If so, we understand that a necessary minimum would be that social graduates also have a system of access to the profession. ”
Although there is no evidence that the Council of Ministers can approve in the short term this preliminary draft, which started a year ago, the CGAE does not lower its guard. “I believe that the law has very acceptable aspects, like the first part, about professional services”, admits Blanche. “What we do not share we have discussed with everyone and continue to do so: until it is published in the BOE, you have to try everything,” he concludes.