Government to reform the legal profession: lawyers and court agents
Published on 29th Oct 2020
The Government has agreed to submit the draft bill modifying admission to practice law or become a court agent to the Parliamentary Assembly, and adapt both professional careers to EU requirements.
The role of lawyers and court agents may change in the coming months if the Parliamentary Assembly approves the draft bill that modifies access to the professional careers of both lawyers and court agents.
The draft bill has three main goals:
1. Set up a unique system for accessing both professions.
2. The possibility for lawyers and court agents to work together in legal firms.
3. Clarifying court agent fees.
The reform stems from the need to adapt the current legislation to European Union Law and prevent the possibility of being fined by the EU.
Firstly, only one system exists to access both professions. Thus, anyone wanting to exercise as a lawyer or a court agent will need the same degree, a BA in Law, and the same Master's degree. However, although the exact requirements are required to exercise in both fields, these professions cannot be exercised at the same time. In the previous reform, it was suggested that both jobs could be exercised simultaneously; that is, the same person would be able to act as a lawyer and as a court agent. This suggestion was finally rejected because, among other things, court agents objected to it. In the new reform, both professions are independent of one another.
That said, maybe the most significant part of this reform is the opportunity it gives joint professional firms to offer and provide a complete legal representation and defence service, without having to contact two different firms. In other words, the current situation is modified since the draft bill expressly sets out that joint professional firms can have both lawyers and court agents working for them. This will result in significant changes because, until now, these companies could not offer both services. It is a sensitive issue because nobody knows how it may affect the profession of court agent in the future.
Finally, there are several temporary and financial measures set out in Royal Decree-law 5/2010, dated 31 March. Specifically, two measures are established: (a) court agents may invoice up to 75,000€, which is the total amount for rights incurred in one matter, and (b) it is expressly decided that the court agent fees cannot have a minimum limit.
In summary, the draft bill aims to adapt official regulations to European law, to only have one method to access the professions of lawyer and court agent, modify the system of joint professional firms, and extend the period of specific and temporary economic measures regarding fees.