LexisNexis

Ecuador International Trade in Legal Services

IBA Global Cross Border Legal Services Report:
Ecuador

Verified by: Ferrere Abogados (Ecuador)

National licensing requirements

Organic Code of the Judiciary (Codigo Orgánico de la Función Judicial); Regulation of Disciplinary Regime for Lawyers Sponsoring Legal Causes. (Reglamento Regimen Disciplinario de abogados en Patrocinio de Causas); Regulation for the registration before the Ecuadorian bar (Reglamento para el Registro en el Foro de Abogados del Ecuador); Regulation for the registration of colective partnerships or law firms (Reglamento para el Registro de Estudios Jurídicos Colectivos); and Organic law of the Ecuadorian Bar Association (Decreto Supremo 201).

In order to obtain a license to practice, lawyers must possess a professional degree granted by a university in Ecuador which has to be recognised by the Secretary of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Secretaria de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación). They must complete a Pre-Professional Practice Program in a given public institution for at least 500 hours. And finally obtain registration in the Lawyers' Forum of the Judicial Council (Foro de Abogados del Consejo de la Judicatura). Registration in the Lawyers Forum of the Judicial Council (Foro de Abogados del Consejo de la Judicatura) does not need to be periodically renewed.

Article 49 of the Organic Law on the Ecuadorian Bar Association states that "Only lawyers in the exercise of their profession may appear in court as prosecutors and attend meetings, hearings and other proceedings, on behalf of the parties".

No, there is no nationality requirement, but lawyers must obtain a degree that is issued or recognised by an Ecuadorian university. Foreign practitioners may register in the Lawyers Forum of the Judicial Council (Foro de Abogados del Consejo de la Judicatura) and obtain the license to practice law, once they have met the aforementioned requirements.

The law does not make specific provision on this point, although abogados appearing in court must practise from a suitable office (Article 80 of the law)

Licensed lawyers must comply with the “Regulation of Disciplinary Regime for Lawyers Sponsoring Legal Causes” (Reglamento Regimen Disciplinario de Abogados en Patrocinio de Causas). Local and regional bar associations, in which the membership is voluntary and optional, may choose to have their own additional code of professional ethics.

There is no law firm licensing regime, however abogados must register the name and address of their firm or office with the Foro del Consejo de la Judicatura.

The Foro del Consejo de la Judicatura issues licences for individual lawyers and registers their practising addresses.

Regulation of trade in legal services

Ecuador joined the WTO on 21 January 1996

Ecuador has made commitments in modes 1-3 for the provision of legal services (CPC 861) covering advisory services in foreign and international law (and excluding advice and litigation in national law). Its horizontal commitments require any employer with a staff of more than 10 employees to employ Ecuadoreans in proportions of not less than 90 per cent of the staff of ordinary workers, and not less than 80 per cent of skilled employees or specialists, administrative staff or persons in posts of responsibility.

Ecuador is a member of the Andean Community (CAN) and ALADI (Latin American Integration Association)

The Andean Community makes provision for free trade in services between Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, but negotiations are currently suspended.

Foreign lawyers may obtain recognition in Ecuador provided reciprocal arrangements exist for the recognition of qualifications in the foreign lawyer's home jurisdiction.

Yes. There are regional South American law firms active and with offices in Ecuador (e.g. Ferrere).

Regulation of foreign lawyers

The law does not make specific provision for foreign lawyer visas/visits. If no practice of law will be carried out, there will be no problem to obtain a visa to visit clients or to market.

In both domestic and international arbitrations in Ecuador, parties must be represented by lawyers licensed to practice in Ecuador. (Ecuadorian Law on Arbitration and Mediation 1997)

A foreign lawyer cannot conduct cases in Ecuadorian courts if his degree has not been issued or registered by an Ecuadorian university. A foreign lawyer may appear in court if the following process is achieved: Obtaining recognition, homologation and registration of the law related degree in the Secretary of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Secretaria de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación). Then the foreign lawyer must complete the Pre-Professional Practice Program in a given public institution for at least 500 hours. And finally obtain registration in the Lawyers Forum of the Judicial Council (Foro de Abogados del Consejo de la Judicatura).

A foreign lawyer may requalify as a local lawyer if the following process is achieved: Obtaining recognition, homologation and registration of the law related degree in the Secretary of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Secretaria de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación). Then the foreign lawyer must complete the Pre-Professional Practice Program in a given public institution for at least 500 hours. And finally obtain registration in the Lawyers Forum of the Judicial Council (Foro de Abogados del Consejo de la Judicatura). Please note that there is a strong possibility that the local authority may require the foreign lawyer to undergo additional courses of study in a local university in order to revalidate a foreign law related degree.

Regulation of foreign law firms

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime

Yes, most law firms are incorporated as Limited Liability Companies or as Corporations, which are regulated by the Superintendence of Companies.

Regulation of foreign and domestic lawyer partnership and employment

There are no additional limitations on names for foreign law firms beyond those imposed on companies in general.

No - foreign lawyers are permitted to have ownership in local firms.

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