A BRITISH CITIZEN
The regulated professions
Since January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom has been a third country to the European Union. EU law has ceased to apply in the UK.
A trade and cooperation agreement was signed with the United Kingdom on December 30, 2020. Since January 1, 2021, this agreement has determined the rules applicable to relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union in a number of areas, in particular with regard to trade between the two Parties. The withdrawal agreement, which entered into force on February 1, 2020, remains applicable for the areas it covers.
Although an agreement has been signed, Brexit has brought about significant changes to which we must adapt.
The Withdrawal Agreement provides specific provisions for the right of residence and for the maintenance of the working conditions of European citizens settled in the United Kingdom before December 31, 2020. You have until June 30, 2021 to apply online for a status of resident. The agreement of December 30, 2020 does not modify these provisions in any way.
If you want to move to the UK, you are not covered by the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement and the steps to take are different.
You are concerned if you are a British student who graduated from a British university and works in France; if you exercise a profession in France subject to a nationality condition; if you are a lawyer or practice another regulated legal profession under a French professional title; if you are a British citizen exercising a medical or paramedical profession in France.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
From 1 January 2021, European nationality clauses could result in British citizens being prohibited de facto from practising a profession subject to such a clause. An in-depth analysis of the agreement’s content is underway, following which the conditions applicable to practising a profession subject to a nationality requirement in France will quickly be established.
However, arrangements have already been made at the national level to ensure the continuation of certain activities after 1 January 2021.
For example, French ordinance no. 2020-1596 of 16 December 2020 ensures that branches of British law and accountancy firms can continue operating. However, it does not allow an equity stake to be increased or a new branch to be opened in France after the end of the transition period. These provisions will secure the position of firms offering professional services in France, such as firms of lawyers, accountants or architects, belonging to British citizens.
However, the trade and cooperation agreement does not provide for automatic mutual recognition, which is consistent with free-trade agreements currently being negotiated with other partners. The agreement establishes a framework for entering into future mutual recognition agreements on a profession-by-profession basis (guidelines).
At this stage, nationality clauses apply according to the reservations expressed by the United Kingdom and the European Union.
For example, under French legislation, establishment or residence in the EEA is required to feature on the list of industrial property consultants. Natural persons must be nationals of an EEA Member State. Establishment or residence in the EEA is required to represent a client before France’s national institute of industrial property (Institut national de la propriété industrielle). The activity must be carried out solely through a legal entity such as an SCP or SEL professional partnership, subject to certain conditions. Regardless of the legal form, more than half of the entity’s share capital and voting rights must be held by professionals who are nationals of an EEA Member State.
Lists of reservations (Annex SERVIN-1: Existing measures and Annex SERVIN-4: Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals) and the annex on guidelines for arrangements on the recognition of professional qualifications (Annex SERVIN-6) can be consulted here, on p.555, p.772 and p.795 respectively.
A lawyer authorized to practice before the courts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can represent or assist a party before the French courts if he finds himself in one of the following two situations:
- this lawyer was registered, prior to the expiry of the transition period, on the roll of a French bar under the title of French lawyer on the basis of article 89 of the law of December 31, 1971 or of the article 99 of the decree of November 27, 1991, or made a request to that effect, prior to the expiry of the transition period, which was favorably received;
- this lawyer has passed, after the end of the transition period, the French law test as provided for by article 100 of the decree of November 27, 1991 and is validly registered on the roll of a bar French.
If you hold a British professional title, you will not be able to continue to practice in France under the current conditions at the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020).
To continue practicing, you must apply for recognition of your professional qualifications. Applications submitted before the end of the transition period will be examined under the same conditions as currently, even after December 31, 2020. If the application is accepted, you will then be able to practice in France under the French title of lawyer. .
If the agreement on future relations provides for it, you will be able to practice under the status of foreign legal consultant (articles 101 and following of law n° 71-1130 of December 31, 1971) with your British professional title. This status authorizes lawyers who are not European nationals to practice in France under their original professional title the activity of legal consultation and drafting of private deeds for others in international law and foreign law, excluding of the Union and of the law of one of its Member States on the one hand and, on the other hand, of any mission of representation and assistance in justice. The request for authorization to exercise, on a temporary (one year) or permanent basis, the activity of legal advice must be addressed to the National Bar Council (art 204-9 of the decree of November 27, 1991).
You are established in France before January 1, 2021:
You can continue to carry out your activity in France. Settled in France before January 1, 2021, your situation falls under the Withdrawal Agreement which provides for the maintenance of acquired rights for British nationals settled in the European Union, including from January 1, 2021.
You wish to settle in France after January 1, 2021:
Since January 1, 2021, British nationals can no longer settle in France under the regime of Directive 2005/36. Settled in France after January 1, 2021, your situation does not fall under the withdrawal agreement. You are now considered a third-country national and therefore no longer benefit from the advantages of EU law. If you wish to settle in France, your professional qualifications will be subject to a stricter examination, on a case-by-case basis, which will not automatically lead to recognition of your professional qualifications.
You wish to settle in France after January 1, 2021, while you were previously settled in a Member State of the European Union or another State party to the European Economic Area:
You can only settle in France if you have submitted a settlement application to the French authorities before January 1, 2021 or if you hold a French diploma.
If you do not respect one of these two conditions, you cannot exercise your activity in France on a permanent basis. On the other hand, it is possible for you to exercise this activity on a temporary and occasional basis in France, provided that you are established in a Member State of the European Union or another State party to the European Economic Area before January 1st. 2021.