(CN) – European Union countries can impose their own assessment of qualifications to practice law there, the Court of Justice ruled. The case hinged on a Polish attorney’s desire to skip an equivalency exam and get a legal traineeship in Germany after receiving his degree in Poland.
Krzysztof Pesla sued after Germany refused to recognize his education and experience as equivalent to having passed a lower exam. Germany requires a lower degree, passing of a first exam, and then two years of training and another exam in order to be able to practice law there.
Pesla held a master’s degree from a Polish university, and parallel bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a German university, both in law. The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ministry of Justice denied Pesla’s bid to skip to the two-year traineeship, saying he must first take an aptitude test.
The Luxembourg-based European high court said this case does not fall under freedom of movement for lawyers. Any member state may impose its own equivalency exam to assess qualifications for practicing law there, the court ruled.
Countries may also reserve the right to relax such requirements, the court’s opinion stated. Partial recognition should be not just an idea, it continued, but also put into practice.
It remanded adecision on legal costs to the national court.