German Admission to the Bar of a British Solicitor Revoked After Brexit

A solicitor admitted in the UK no longer falls under the professional titles under which it is possible to work as a European lawyer.
11 Jun 24 | Germany
Employment and Labour
Roos Nelskamp Schumacher & Partner

Federal Court of Justice, judgement of 07.03.2024 – AnwZ (Brfg) 29/23


The plaintiff in the present case is a German and British national and has been admitted as a solicitor in the United Kingdom since 1996. In November 2002, he was admitted to the Hamburg Bar Association as a European lawyer.

Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the so-called ‘Brexit’, the Act on the Activities of European Lawyers in Germany (EuRAG) was amended with effect from 1 January 2021 to the effect that a British solicitor can no longer act as a European lawyer. Therefore, on 31 May 2021, the defendant bar association revoked the plaintiff’s admission as a European lawyer in accordance with the provisions of the EuRAG.

The plaintiff initially lodged an objection against this, which was rejected by the defendant, whereupon the plaintiff filed an action with The Bar Court of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and applied for reinstatement to the bar. The Bar Court dismissed the action and did not allow an appeal. The plaintiff then turned to the Federal Court of Justice to apply for permission to appeal – but without success.


According to the Federal Court of Justice, there are no serious doubts as to the correctness of the judgement of the Bar Court, which is why there is no reason to admit an appeal. The corresponding provision of Section 4 (2) sentence 1 EuRAG stipulates that admission to the bar association is to be revoked if the person loses the status of a European lawyer for other reasons. This includes the present case in which, according to Section 1 EuRAG, which was amended following Brexit, a solicitor admitted in the UK no longer falls under the professional titles under which it is possible to work as a European lawyer.

The Federal Court of Justice also has no doubts about the correctness of the judgement insofar as it confirms that The Bar Court of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg ordered the correct legal consequence by revoking the plaintiff’s admission to the bar. In this respect, the statutory provision does not provide any room for discretion on the part of the Chamber, but rather mandatorily orders a revocation.

The plaintiff took a different view, as the wording in the legislative materials stated that it was “in principle” appropriate to no longer allow lawyers from the United Kingdom to benefit from privileges such as being admitted to a German bar association as a European lawyer, as these were based on EU directives. The plaintiff used the wording “in principle” to suggest that exceptions to the revocation rule could be made in special cases.

However, the draft bill to amend the EuRAG did not contain any further statements indicating that such an exception was to be created. Rather, the wording of Section 4 (2) sentence 1 EuRAG is clear in that it states that the revocation of a lawyer ”shall” be revoked if the lawyer no longer fulfils the status of a European lawyer.

Since the Hamburg Bar Court also made the above considerations and found that the bar association was not required to take any other legal action for reasons of proportionality, there is therefore no doubt as to the correctness of the judgement, so that the possibility of appealing to an appellate court was rightly ruled out.


In the UK, lawyers are referred to as solicitors and barristers, with the latter also appearing in court, while the former primarily fulfil legal advisory activities.

The judgement of the Federal Court of Justice confirms the legislative consequences of Brexit, which may also affect lawyers previously practising in Germany.

The Annex to Section 1 EuRAG lists the legal professions in member states of the European Union, other signatory states to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and Switzerland that are authorised to practise and be admitted to the bar in Germany. The fact that this annex no longer mentions solicitors and barristers in the wake of Brexit means that British lawyers will lose their membership of German bar associations and will no longer be able to practise as so-called European lawyers in Germany.

Author: Dr iur. Christoph Roos, Specialist lawyer for labour law

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