The European Union (EU) is an important legal services market. According to a WTO (2010) report, Europe accounted for more than 36 per cent of the legal services market worldwide and stood second only after the Americas. Within Europe, the UK is a dominant legal services market with around US$ 5,500 million in exports and US$ 1,000 million in imports of legal services.
Though globalization and universal international standards are making legal services globally comparable, the regulatory frameworks affecting these services are not the same across the globe. On the one hand, it is a profession that is exercised in a liberal and traditionally self-employed manner, and on the other hand, it has extremely strong links with the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is trained and exercises his profession (Claessens et al., 2012). Also, legal services are among the most protected services in most countries. The protection comes mainly from regulatory barriers related to qualification recognition, residency and nationality conditions, area of practice and the like. The EU also has various regulations affecting the supply and availability of legal services in its Member States. Some of these regulations are common across Member States, whereas some are unique to a particular Member State.
This chapter compares the regulatory frameworks affecting legal services at the EU level as well as individually in selected Member States of the EU, namely, the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. The UK is the largest legal services market in the EU; hence, its inclusion in the selected countries is obvious. The other countries are selected to give a representation to the entire EU, including the Scandinavian region. The discussion takes into account the regulations for legal services that affect the nationals of the Member States as well as the citizens of non-EU countries. It is worth noting that though these regulations affect the movement of Indian legal professionals to the EU Member States to provide their services, they are not exclusively for India. Rather, these regulations are applicable for all non-EU countries. This chapter also presents the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD), and the World Bank work on regulatory restrictiveness indices for legal services for the selected EU countries. It analyzes these regulations for their potential effects on the movement of Indian legal professionals to the EU and their ability to practice in EU countries.