Resolution about the ownership of law firms – Bruges, 23 May 2009

The European Bars Federation, meeting in congress at Bruges on 23rd May 2009:

• recalls the special nature of law, which governs human relationships and regulates economic and social life, and the task of lawyers who are responsible for the legal security of the citizen and access to justice, defending individual and collective liberties.

• considers that because of the importance of the essential principals and values of our profession, being the independence of lawyers, which is to be guaranteed regardless of their working practices, the defence of legal professional privilege and the prevention of conflicts of interest, the fact that the exercise of a lawyers’ activity has to based on an economic basis, such activity may not be compared with a purely commercial activity.

• states that the ownership, if only in part, and the operation of a law firm by someone who is not a lawyer represents a danger for legal security and the liberty of citizens,

• is opposed to the introduction of law firms on the stock exchange and considers that in jurisdictions which accept outside shareholders who are not lawyers, such shareholders may only have an extreme minority share of the capital and in the management of firms.