Monk Seeking Recognition of Athenian Bar Prevails at EU Court

The Sykia dam sits on the Acheloos River along the border of Karditsa and Arta, Greece.

(CN) – Clearing the way for a monk to also practice law, Europe’s highest court ruled Tuesday that Greek law improperly deemed the two professions incompatible.

Monachos Eirinaios, a monk at the Holy Monastery of Petra, in Karditsa, Greece, had trained as a lawyer in Cyprus, a separate member state, and asked the Athens Bar Association in 2015 to include him on its register of lawyers.

When the association turned him down that June, Eirinaios sought relief from Greece’s Council of State, which in turn looked to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice for direction on EU law.

On Tuesday that court’s Grand Chamber sided with Eirinaios. 

“It must be held that lawyers who have acquired the right to use that professional title in a member state, such as [Eirinaios], and who present to the competent authority of the host member state a certificate attesting to their registration with the competent authority of the first member state, must be regarded as satisfying all the conditions required for their registration with the competent authority of the host member state, under their professional title obtained in the home member state,” the ruling states.

The court later emphasized that lawmakers have a duty to craft narrow regulations when it comes to preventing a conflict of interest among lawyers.

“If a lawyer wishing to practice in the host member state under his home-country professional title were refused registration with the competent authorities of that member state solely on the ground that he has the status of monk, that would effectively add a registration condition to those set out in Article 3(2) of Directive 98/5, whereas such addition is not permitted by that provision,” the ruling states.

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