The EU’s ‘Justice for Growth’ project, which aims to open up a market of 500 million consumers of legal services, came in for criticism at last week’s plenary session of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) in Athens.

Justice for Growth’s objectives include a single modern and unified set of data protection rules, including a ‘right to be forgotten’ provision obliging companies to delete customers’ personal data when so requested.

Another proposal would modernise cross-border insolvency to support the restructuring of businesses in difficulties. Some 200,000 companies go bankrupt across the EU every year, with around 1.7m job losses.

However, progress has been slow, CCBE delegates heard, and the legal profession should be ‘more proactive, conducting its own factually supported and more accurate research’.

Kay-Thomas Pohl, chair of the CCBE’s free movement of lawyers committee, told the Gazette that there ‘remained difficulties’ with the drive to make it easier for lawyers to handle cases in other jurisdictions.

Pohl said that when the committee began its work more than 10 years ago, the major problem was ‘the host country making life difficult for foreign lawyers’. That particular problem has diminished now, he said, but there remain problems of different languages, knowledge, ethics, professional indemnity insurance and conflict of interest rules.

He said: ‘The committee’s next step is to ask all delegates to identify what rules of ethics they want upheld in every circumstance.’