Sat, Jun. 30, 2007

Notar, Nationality, Discrimination

CK - Washington.   Germany is one of the countries haled into the European Court of Justice for the alleged violation of the non-discrimination principle of Art. 43 of the EC Treaty as it relates to professional services. The specific profession is that of notaries.

In Germany, as in several other countries, notaries are lawyers with a specialization that authorizes them to perform certain substantive legal services. In Germany, notaries perform services in the fields of corporate, real estate and inheritance law, among others. Beyond certifying documents, they may structure some transactions and generate public and private records.

Unlike lawyers in most cases, they may serve several masters in many situations, by advising all of the parties to a transaction, without taking sides by representing the interests of a specific client.

Their obligations include protecting the integrity of public records, similar to a governmental function. For that reason, the role of a German Notar is described by statute as an office, Amt, not as a profession.

The plaintiff is the European Commission. In addition to Germany, the defendants failing to abolish restrictions based on nationality will be Belgium, France, Greece, Austria and Luxembourg. Portugal will be an additional defendant because of its failure to implement the European Directive 78/48 for notaries.

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