Case 71/76 Thieffry [1977] ECR 765

Key point
  • A right to recognition of equivalence of diplomas can be derived from the right of establishment Article 49 TFEU
Facts
  • Thieffry held a Belgian law degree that was recognised by a French university as equivalent to a French law degree and a French qualifying certificate for advocates
  • Under French legislation, foreign law degrees are only recognised as equivalent for academic purposes to purpose further studies, but not for professional purposes to qualify as an advocat
  • Thus, Thieffry was denied admission to the Paris bar on the ground that he did not hold a French law degree
  • At that time, no directives had been adopted to ensure the mutual recognition of diplomas for the professional of advocate under Article 51 TFEU (then Article 57 EEC)
  • Issue arose as to whether the right to recognition of equivalence of diplomas can be derived from the right of establishment in Article 49 TFEU in the absence of any directives adopted under Article 51 TFEU
Held
  • The French legislation was incompatible with the right of establishment under Article TFEU
Judgment
  • ‘It is an unjustified restriction on [the right of establishment] where, in a member state , admission to a particular profession is refused to a person covered by the treaty who holds a diploma which has been recognized as an equivalent qualification by the competent authority of the country of establishment and who furthermore has fulfilled the specific conditions regarding professional training in force in that country’: [19]
  • ‘The fact that a national legislation provides for recognition of equivalence only for university purposes does not of itself justify the refusal to recognize such equivalence as evidence of a professional qualification’: [25]
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