Case 2/74 Reyners [1974] ECR 631

Key point
  • The profession of lawyers as a whole do not come under the scope of the exemption to the right of establishment within Article 51 TFEU
  • The exemption in Article 51 does not apply to the whole of a profession unless it involves the exercise of official authority not separable¬†from the scope of the profession as a whole
Facts
  • Reyners was prevented by Belgian law from being admitted as a lawyer in Belgium despite holding a law degree on the ground that he was a Dutch national
  • Reyners challenged the compatibility of the Belgian provision with his right of establishment under Article 49 TFEU (ex Article 52 EEC)
  • The Belgian government argued that the whole profession of lawyers come within the exemption under Article 51 TFEU (ex Article 55 EEC) for ”activities which in that state are connected, even occasionally, with the exercise of official authority” as lawyers are an “indispensable auxiliary of the administration of justice”
Held
  • The exemption did not cover the entire legal profession and thus the Belgian provision was incompatible with Article 49 TFEU
Judgment
  • “An extension of the exception allowed by article 55 to a whole profession would be possible only in cases where such activities were linked with that profession in such a way that freedom of establishment would result in imposing on the member state concerned the obligation to allow the exercise, even occasionally, by non-nationals of functions appertaining to official authority”: [46]
  • Extending the exemption under Article 51 TFEU to the whole of an independent profession is not possible when “the activities connected with the exercise of official authority are separable from the professional activity in question taken as a whole”: [47]
  • “The most typical activities of the profession of avocat, in particular, such as consultation and legal assistance and also representation and the defence of parties in court, even when the intervention or assistance of the avocat is compulsory or is a legal monopoly, cannot be considered as connected with the exercise of official authority”: [52]
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