Gibraltar Overhauls Rules On Legal Professionals
by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
16 March, 2015
The Government of Gibraltar and the Bar Council have announced new training requirements for barristers and solicitors wishing to practice in Gibraltar.
The current system is that while barristers are able to be admitted and enrolled as barristers of the Supreme Court under the Supreme Court Act upon completion of the Bar Professional Training Course, solicitors are required to undertake a further two-year training period after completing the Legal Practice Course before they can be admitted and enrolled as solicitors of the Supreme Court. In addition, solicitors are required to undertake a Professional Skills Course.
It is proposed that the requirements be made equal, on the basis that the two professions essentially undertake the same type of work and have the same rights of audience in Gibraltar's courts. Under the new harmonized system, the same requirements will apply, namely that they undertake:
- An academic course in Gibraltar law;
- One year of practical training with an approved Gibraltar law firm; and
- A professional skills course, to be undertaken at the end of the training, focused on advocacy skills, communications skills, client care, professional standards, financial skills, and business skills.
The practical training element will require barristers and solicitors to undertake a one year's training contract at an approved establishment. The training would cover at least three of the following four areas of legal practice: Commercial Law, Property Law, Litigation, and Private Client. The minimum criteria for approval as a training establishment will be a Gibraltar law firm that is able to provide training in at least three of the areas of legal practice and contains at least three practitioners, one with at least ten years' standing and two with at least seven years' standing. The Chief Justice will have a discretion to amend the minimum criteria for approval as a training establishment if he feels that this is justified for any particular firm.
The new requirements, as with current practice, may be waived by the Chief Justice for outside counsel wishing to be admitted to the Gibraltar Bar for a particular case. In addition, the Chief Justice will have a discretion to waive the requirements of the practical training and professional skills course, but not the academic qualification in Gibraltar law, for any barrister or solicitor wishing to practice in Gibraltar if he is satisfied that such barrister or solicitor already has the necessary training or expertise.
The Minister for Justice, Gilbert Licudi, said:
"The Bar Council has been advocating for some time that the training requirements for barristers and solicitors wishing to practice in Gibraltar should be harmonized. The opening of the University of Gibraltar in September of this year paves the way for such harmonization with the inclusion of a requirement for an academic course in Gibraltar law. This will result in barristers and solicitors who will be fully qualified and trained in the legal system in which they will be practicing, something which has not happened in this way until now. As both Minister for Justice and Minister for Education responsible for the delivery of the University, it is very satisfying to have been able to work with the Bar Council to bring these two strands together in such a positive way for the legal profession."
The Chairman of the Bar Council, Melo Triay, said:
"The Bar Council is delighted that these new proposals are being implemented. Not only will they help to improve the preparation of new lawyers qualifying to practice in Gibraltar but they correct the anomalies currently affecting the routes to qualification of the two different branches of our profession. The Bar Council is also delighted that the Government has acted so promptly in implementing these recommendations."
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