In-house lawyers news archive

Report from ECLA event: The role of in-house counsel in today’s legal practice

30 October 2014

Graeme McWilliams, ILG Committee member, reports on an event organised by the European Company Lawyers Association (ECLA), on 11 September 2014 in Brussels looking at the role of in-house counsel.

In September, I attended this very useful afternoon event and found it a great opportunity to find out more about the European take on the role of in-house lawyers.  

The programme was split into two panels: the first panel focused on the meaning of “independence”. The second panel examined regulation of the profession and the evolving nature of compliance challenges for in-house counsel in a global context.

The point was made that the role of employed lawyers in today's legal practice, and the regulation of their profession, continues to be controversial. 

On 29 May 29, 2014, ECLA published a White Paper on the independence of company lawyers. This White Paper gives an international perspective on a number of topics relating to in-house counsel and argues that professional independence is a necessary prerequisite to the provision of legal advice of any value.  Legal professional privilege is still a hot topic in Europe, after the ECJ decision in the Akzo Nobel case was issued in 2010, which many thought would be decided in favour of in-house legal privilege. A possible challenge to the ruling with some new arguments may still be on the cards. Certain EU member states such as the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany etc. still have some sort of legal privilege but it is not recognised in EU courts or for EU competition matters etc. 

On the ECLA website there are links to ECLA’s first European company Lawyers’ Code of Ethics and to Legal Privilege : An overview of EU and National Case Law , which is a document from the Institute of Competition Law, which summarises the current status of legal profesional privilege by highlighting national cases and contrasting them with competition law jurisprudence in the EU.

There are two sets of speaker slides available from the second panel of this event at from 
Boris Kasten, Head of Competition Law, Schindler AG and Steve Preece, Assistant Director, CMA (UK).

The ILG Committee will consider whether membership of ECLA would provide additional benefits for its members.