How to practise in France after the Brexit transition period

The UK left the EU single market and customs union at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

The EU Lawyers Directives no longer apply to UK solicitors and law firms, and freedom of movement to the EU has come to an end.

Different rules on practising rights, immigration, visa and work permit requirements apply in each EU member state.

Conditions for UK solicitors to practise under home title after the end of the transition period

France has a foreign legal consultant (FLC) status.

The Code of Civil Procedure (Code de procédure civile) separately governs arbitration, conciliation and mediation. The code does not prohibit representation by foreign lawyers. 

Requirements to access FLC status

Non-EU lawyers are eligible for FLC status if they’re admitted to a bar of a non-EU/EFTA member state that’s linked to the EU by an international treaty that covers legal services.

Solicitors of England and Wales can practise on a temporary/fly-in-fly-out basis as FLCs in France on the basis of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

They must obtain authorisation from the Conseil National des Barreaux (CNB) and register with one of the local French bar associations.

Registrations are valid for one year.

Register to become a legal consultant in France

FLCs’ practising rights

FLCs can:

  • practise under their home title
  • advise on international law and the law of any state they are registered and authorised to practise in

FLCs cannot:

  • represent clients in court – only a French avocat may act in court or before jurisdictional or disciplinary bodies of any kind
  • advise on French, EU or any EU member state law

Requalifying as a French lawyer after the Brexit transition period

There are no nationality or residency requirements to requalify as a lawyer in France.

However, there’s a reciprocity requirement that the third country of origin should also grant the possibility for French lawyers to requalify under the same conditions as the conditions granted by French law for foreign lawyers.

If a lawyer is recognised by the National Council of French Bars (CNB) as having sufficient education and training, they can re-qualify by taking an examination in French law, which is done before a jury, under the Article 100 procedure. This comprises two written and two oral tests.

Lawyers can request an exemption from parts of the exam based on work published during their university or scientific studies, but not their professional experience or degrees.

An exemption exists for lawyers registered with the Quebec Bar who only need to take one out of the four examinations under the Article 100 procedure.

Resources

Conseil National des Barreaux les Avocats

Registration as foreign legal consultant

Requalification under Article 100 of the decree of 27/11/1991

If you have any questions, email our international team at international@lawsociety.org.uk.

The information above does not constitute legal advice. It was drafted by the Law Society of England and Wales on the basis of desk research, bilateral relations with European Bars and engagement with members.

The Law Society cannot be held liable for actions taken on the basis of this note or lack thereof. In case of specific queries, we strongly advise to consider instructing external counsel to obtain advice specific to your business objectives.

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