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14/02/2019

Last opportunity for solicitors and barristers registered on the EU-list to request registration as “advocaat” on the tableau on 8 March 2019

The Brussels Bar counts among its members an increasing number of British lawyers, whether it be on the EU-list or, for those who fulfil the conditions, on the tableau. The stafhouder and the Bar Council are determined to do whatever is possible to defend the position of ‘our’ British lawyers. The Brussels Bar welcomed our British friends when they arrived in Brussels, they remain welcome beyond and despite Brexit. The current position around Brexit is particularly unclear and is changing every day. Of course the Brussels Bar hopes that there will either be a suitable agreement between the EU and Britain in order to preserve all vested rights (droits acquis) of lawyers who presently work in Belgium. But even in the event of a hard Brexit our position remains that British lawyers, especially those who have been admitted to the Tableau, should be permitted to continue to practice in Belgium – and that is also true for the British EU-list members. The stafhouder has approached the Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs and is closely following up on further developments.

Obviously the Belgian lawyers established in London will also expect similar treatment, but we have every reason to believe that the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar of England and Wales will not change their open policy in this regard. It should be mentioned that, in contrast to Belgian law (article 428 of the Judicial Code), there is no nationality requirement for solicitors or barristers under English law.

Further to a request from the stafhouder the First President of the Court of Appeal has accepted to a hold a special hearing at which an opportunity will be given to deliver the oath required for admission to the tableau. This hearing will take place on Monday 25 March 2019 at 12:30hrs. All relevant documentation will have to be filed with the procureur-generaal by 15 March 2019: there is no time to lose. This will be the last opportunity for delivering the oath prior to the anticipated effective date of Brexit. The hearing replaces the ordinary hearing originally scheduled for Monday 1 April 2019. The date has been changed in order to give all British EU-lawyers who fulfil the conditions to be admitted to the tableau a fair chance to complete all formalities prior to Brexit.

Prior to taking the oath, a file has to be submitted to the Bar Council in order to demonstrate a three year practice in Belgium in Belgian law and/or European law. An application letter can be sent to stafhouder@baliebrussel.be no later than Friday 8 March 2019 at 16:00hrs. The application letter should provide evidence of the relevant period of practice in Belgium, as well as an (anonymous) summary of cases handled and advice given on matters of Belgian and/or European law. All information will of course be dealt with on a confidential basis.