The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the American Bar Association (ABA) wrote to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on 21 December 2011, to voice their growing concerns about trends affecting the independence of the legal profession in certain European countries. The countries that are the main source of concern are Greece, Ireland and Portugal, all of which have been hard hit by the economic crisis and are implementing radical reforms of the legal profession to meet the demands of the troika (IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission). The EU executive is pushing for liberalisation of the profession, an EU source told Europolitics.

"We are aware of the difficult times that countries are facing, and also of the need for reforms." The current developments, however, "go beyond what we would consider proportionate and necessary reforms and they also raise fundamental questions of compliance with international norms," state the two signatories of the letter, CCBE and ABA Presidents Georges-Albert Dal and William T. Robinson III. They add that the proposed reforms are plainly inconsistent with the core principles of the legal profession.

"We are concerned that initiatives are being taken on a purely economic approach [ ] without taking account of the purpose/justification of...

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