How to practise in Germany 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

UK solicitors can establish in Germany as foreign legal consultants (FLCs) .

Licences for foreign lawyers are granted by local bars (Article 206 of the Federal Lawyers’ Act (BRAO)).

FLCs must:

  • file for membership in the local bar as an established foreign lawyer
  • submit a certificate from the competent body in their country of origin that they’re a member of the legal profession in that country
  • provide evidence that they have the same kind of professional insurance coverage as required from a German Rechtsanwalt

FLCs can:

  • practise home country law (English and Welsh law) and public international law
  • represent clients in arbitration, conciliation or mediation

FLCs cannot:

  • appear in court
  • practise German law or EU law

Requalifying as a German lawyer after the transition period

There are currently no nationality, residency or reciprocity requirements for non-EU lawyers to requalify into local profession.

In order to requalify, UK solicitors must go through the entire German education/qualification process.

They must pass the first State Examination (as part of a degree), followed by the Referendariat (two years practical training at civil and criminal courts, with an administrative authority/court and with counsel, that is at a law firm). This is then followed by the second State Examination.

Resources

Federal Lawyers’ Act (BRAO) (German)

Law on the activities of European lawyers (EuRAG) (German)

German Federal Bar (BRAK) (regulation of the legal profession, English versions available)

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

This information 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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