• In Case 340/89 Vlassopoulou [1991], the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) stated that Member States are under a requirement to compare foreign diplomas to national diplomas for the purpose of application assessment for the admission of a lawyer.
  • If, on comparison, the diplomas are similar in terms of knowledge and the certifications offered, it must be recognised as legitimate by the Member State.

Facts of the Case

  • The applicant was working in the legal industry in Germany as an advisor. He was qualified as a lawyer in Greece, and he held a doctorate for law in Germany.
  • The applicant wished to become a lawyer in Germany, however Germany refused, on the basis that she did not study law at a German university, and she had not completed the necessary training period.
  • The applicant sought to appeal this decision, on the basis that it had been made in contravention of Article 49 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Issue in Case 340/89 Vlassopoulou [1991]

  • The issue for the CJEU to determine in this case was whether the decision of the German authority to refuse her admission as a lawyer in Germany was in contravention of Community law, and specifically, Article 49 TFEU on the freedom of establishment.

The CJEU Held That

  • National authorities have an obligation under Article 49 TFEU to assess whether the knowledge and qualifications held by the applicant correspond with the national requirements that nationals must meet to enter the profession. Following such an assessment, if they do correspond, then the national authority must regard the applicant’s qualifications as equivalent to those required domestically.
  • If there is a particular correlation between the applicant’s qualifications and the domestic requirements, then the national authority can request that the applicant demonstrates that they have the knowledge and qualifications which they do not have on their certifications.

The CJEU Specifically Stated

  • [19] “If that comparative examination of diplomas results in the finding that the knowledge and qualifications certified by the foreign diploma correspond to those required by the national provisions, the Member State must recognise that diploma as fulfilling the requirements laid down by its national provisions. If, on the other hand, the comparison reveals that the knowledge and qualifications certified by the foreign diploma and those required by the national provisions correspond only partially, the host Member State is entitled to require the person concerned to show that he has acquired the knowledge and qualifications which are lacking.”
  • [20] “In this regard, the competent national authorities must assess whether the knowledge acquired in the host Member State, either during a course of study or by way of practical experience, is sufficient in order to prove possession of the knowledge which is lacking.”
  • [23] “Consequently, the answer to the question submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof must be that Article 52 of the EEC Treaty must be interpreted as requiring the national authorities of a Member State to which an application for admission to the profession of lawyer is made by a Community subject who is already admitted to practise as a lawyer in his country of origin and who practises as a legal adviser in the first-mentioned Member State to examine to what extent the knowledge and qualifications attested by the diploma obtained by the person concerned in his country of origin correspond to those required by the rules of the host State; if those diplomas correspond only partially, the national authorities in question are entitled to require the person concerned to prove that he has acquired the knowledge and qualifications which are lacking.”