In the Media

Lisbon treaty to improve access to European courts

PUBLISHED December 2, 2009

The Law Society today welcomed the arrival of the Lisbon Treaty, saying that it will widen access to the European courts for business and individuals.

The Society said that the treaty, which came into force today, will pave the way for ?many more? challenges to be brought by businesses in European courts.

The treaty underlines the EU?s power to legislate in areas such as family and criminal law, the Society said, and highlights the development of alternative dispute resolution.

?The need for transparency, better democratic accountability and enhanced judicial scrutiny in the EU made the Treaty of Lisbon necessary,? said Law Society President Robert Heslett. ?It will bring about much-needed change by streamlining complex legislative procedures and enhancing the role of the directly elected parliament in areas of vital importance such as criminal justice and civil liberties.

?In our recently launched EU priorities 2009-2014 paper we call on the EU to improve access to justice and guarantee rights. The new EU framework should go along way in making progress in this area.?

Julia Bateman, head of the Society?s Brussels Office, which provides strategic advice to solicitors on influencing the EU decision-making process, said: ?Solicitors practising in all areas of law ? from the high street to the City ? need to be familiar with EU law when advising their clients in order to ensure that they can give the best possible service to those clients by exploring every avenue of redress.?

The Law Society has produced a guide to the treaty.