Good news for firms with reform of German Federal Lawyers' Act

Lawyers and firms practising in Germany should start to prepare for regulatory changes to the Federal Lawyers’ Act (BRAO) from 1 August 2022.

The German parliament has approved a shake-up of the country’s regulatory regime for lawyers.

The changes provide a secure legal basis for non-EU law firms operating in the country, including LLPs. They introduce new registration and compliance requirements for all firms.

We recommend that firms start assessing the impact of the new legislation before it comes into force next year.

This follows extensive work that we've carried out, alongside our counterparts in Germany, to address issues arising from Brexit and impacting our German-based members.

We’ve been working with our German counterparts to be able to offer information and guidance to support firms during this process.

Summary

  • The reform clarifies that law firms from non-EU countries, including UK LLPs, can provide legal services in Germany
  • Law firms must register with and be supervised by the German local bars, and will have a new set of rules to follow
  • All law firms in Germany must apply to be admitted to a local German bar by 31 December 2022
  • Detailed information will need to be provided to regional bars as part of the admission process – we expect a uniform approach to be agreed in the coming months
  • The new legislation states that law firms (not just individual lawyers) have the right to provide legal services (rechtsdienstleistungsbefugnis) and rights of audience before courts and authorities (postulationsfähigkeit)
  • Article 207a explicitly states that law firms “with their seat in a country which is a member of the World Trade Organisation” (including the UK) “may provide legal services”
  • German lawyers will be able to form partnerships with a broader range of members of other professions as well as foreign lawyers, although the ban on external investors holding shares in law firms remains
  • Law firms will need to take out professional liability insurance and set up appropriate compliance and disciplinary systems
  • The Tax Advisors Act and the Patent Attorneys Act have also been amended

We’ve worked with Markus Hartung, German lawyer and member of the Committee on Professional Regulation at the German Bar Association (DAV), to explore the changing landscape in more detail.

Discover more about the regulatory changes and the steps that English solicitors and firms should take to prepare.

Contact us at international@lawsociety.org.uk if you require further detail.

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