PANDÉMIE DE COVID-19 : les flux de personnes entre la France et le Royaume-Uni sont soumis à des restrictions.
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.
CHANGES IN PROGRESS
British professionals practising the legal profession in France will be subject to any agreements that are concluded (withdrawal agreement, commercial agreement on the future relationship). Specifically, continued recognition of professional qualifications based on the relevant European Directives (Directive 98/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 to facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained; Council Directive 77/249/EEC of 22 March 1977 to facilitate the effective exercise by lawyers of freedom to provide services; and Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications) will depend on this).
CHANGES IN PROGRESS
If you hold a UK professional title, you will not be able to practise law in France under current conditions at the end of the transition period (31 December 2020).
To continue to practise, you will need to apply for recognition of your professional qualifications. Applications filed before the end of the transition period will be reviewed under the same conditions as now, even after 31 December 2020. If your application is approved, you will be able to practise in France under the French title of lawyer.
Depending on the terms of the agreement on future relations, you may be able to practise as a foreign legal consultant (articles 101 et seq. of Act 71-1130 of 31 December 1971) with your UK professional title. This status allows lawyers who are not EU nationals to practise certain activities in France under their original professional title, namely legal consulting and the drafting of private instruments for third parties under international law or foreign law, excluding EU law or the law of any Member States, as well as legal assistance and representation services. The application for authorisation to practice the activity of legal consulting, either temporarily (one year) or permanently, must be filed with the Conseil national des barreaux (Article 204-9 of the Decree of 27 November 1991).