It’s the time of year when every respectable journal tells you what reading to pack for the beach, and so here goes.
The fiction list for lawyers has not been strong this year. A late contender is the publication in the last few days of the Financial Action Task Force’s publication ‘Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Vulnerabilities of Legal Professionals’, about which I wrote recently (after seeing a review copy). The report does not deal with vulnerabilities of unwitting legal professionals so much as how complicit lawyers facilitate crime, which is an entirely different matter. The reviewers were unanimous in their damning criticism for its not keeping to the promise of its title.
If you can read French (maybe you are headed for the Côte d’Azur), you will be fascinated by this account of the agreement on the Belgian government’s budget for 2013-2014. Don’t be put off, since buried in the small print you will find that the last group of lawyers not subject to VAT, the Belgian legal profession, has at last been brought into the VAT fold by the financial needs of the Belgian government.
Greece was the second-last to go about 18 months ago. The economic crisis has brought about harmonisation in the principle of European lawyers being subject to VAT.
Maybe you are going instead to the Amalfi coast or Chiantishire. Then you can practise your Italian on this article, which explains that the Italian legal profession is so furious with its Minister of Justice that it is going on strike from 8 to 16 July. She has called them an obstacle to reform, at the same time as not including them in consultations over future plans. So do not slip on the sun-cream lotion or be arrested for being drunk and disorderly during that period of your Italian holiday.
If you have been following the establishment of the Unified Patent Court in Europe, and particularly if you are an intellectual property lawyer, you will be interested to read the new court’s draft rules of procedure, which have just been published, and are open for comments until 1 October 2013. The drafting committee was chaired by an English solicitor – Kevin Mooney of Simmons & Simmons – and had one other UK member, Mr Justice Floyd (out of a total of seven members in all). Put down Dan Brown’s Inferno; read something sensational.
There has been another preliminary reference to the Court of Justice in Europe on the tortured question of the insured’s right to choose a lawyer in a case of legal expenses insurance (Case C-442/12, Sneller). Article 4 of the Legal Expenses Insurance Directive (Directive 87/344/EEC) gives the insured person the right to choose a lawyer, which is contained in a highly litigated phrase.
After Eschig and Stark, which dealt with its interpretation, we now have Sneller. Essentially, the questions are whether the right to a lawyer is retained in circumstances where use of a lawyer is not mandatory, and whether an insurance company can decide that use of an external lawyer is not necessary since an employee of the insurance company will do as well. A full account of the facts of the case can be read here.
If you can’t find your way back to your hotel, and don’t trust your map, don’t worry - GCHQ knows where you are. While waiting for them to answer the phone, you can read the statement put out by my organisation, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), on the data mining scandal.
* The Law Society Gazette accepts no responsibility if any of these recommendations fails to improve the quality of your holiday.
Jonathan Goldsmith is secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which represents about one million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies. He blogs weekly for the Gazette on European affairs