Moldova International Trade in Legal Services

Moldova International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Law On Legal Profession of 19 July 2002 as last amended in 7 December 2012

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Advocate and Trainee Advocates.  Trainee Advocates are entitled to practice law, except representation in criminal cases, administrative misdemeanour cases, as well as any cases in front of the Supreme Court of Justice. 

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to become an advocate in Moldova, an individual must be a citizen of the Republic of Moldova, have full legal capacity, have a higher degree in law, have an 'impeccable reputation' and have passed the qualification exam.  An 'impeccable reputation' requires that the candidate: ?) has not previously been convicted for an intentionally serious crime, regardless of whether or not his or her criminal record has been spent; b) has no unspent conviction for any other crime; ?) has not previously been excluded from the Bar or disbarred; d) has not been dismissed from law enforcement bodies or from the position of a judge, notary, jurist or civil servant; ?) does not undertake activities incompatible with requirements of the Code of Advocate’s Ethics; f) has not violated basic human rights and freedoms.  After passing the examination set by the Commission on Licensing the Legal Profession (a body comprising representatives both of the Bar and of the Ministry of Justice), a candidate obtains the status of ‘trainee advocate’ and is admitted to the professional internship, which lasts eighteen months. An agreement is signed between the trainee advocate and his or her advocate-mentor and this is registered with the Council of the Bar. On completion of the internship, the advocate swears an oath and is fully registered with the Bar. He or she may then apply for a legal licence from the Ministry of Justice.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

The licence to practise law in Moldova is national.

 

 

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

 

 

 

 

Professional legal assistance should be provided by licensed advocates and trainee advocates, although licensed audit firms and unlicensed legal consultants can also be found in Moldova to provide legal advice.
In criminal cases, legal assistance can be provided only by advocates (Article 67 of the Criminal Procedural Code), although there are some discussions now considering whether to allow trainees to participate in certain aspects of criminal procedure.
For civil cases, Article 75 of the Civil Procedure Code states that parties should be represented by advocates or trainee advocates, and employees (lawyers or non-lawyers) could also represent a legal entity in a judicial proceeding.
 

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

Only citizens of Moldova may become advocates

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Moldovan advocates may work either as individual advocates (solo practice) or law firms, also known as 'associated law offices'. The founding declarations establishing these solo or associated offices must be registered with the Ministry of Justice. A lawyer may only be a member of one office.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

Moldovan lawyers are bound by the Code of Ethics for Lawyers of the Moldova Bar Association of 20 December 2002

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Advocates must register their law offices with the Ministry of Justice and present the information to the Bar.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

The Advocates Licensing Commission of the Bar Association, composed of 11 members elected by Council of the bar, is responsible for the admission of advocates to the Bar. The Commission’s decision on admission to the Bar Association is a prerequisite for obtaining a licence from the Ministry of Justice. The ultimate licensing authority is the Ministry of Justice.

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There are no restrictions on the fly-in fly-out practice of law outside the regulated area of criminal defence. Licenses for temporary practice do not exist.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Citizens of the EU, CIS and the following countries do not need visas to visit Moldova for periods of up to 90 days in any year period: Canada, Georgia, Holy See, Iceland, Japan, Principality of Andorra, Principality of Monaco, Principality of Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, State of Israel, Swiss Confederation, USA, Georgia. Citizens of other countries may obtain business visas for periods of up to 90 days in any six month period in order to visit clients and undertake negotiations.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers are permitted to practise international and home country law as a result of Moldova's WTO commitments and can practise Moldovan law in association with a Moldovan advocate. Foreign lawyers must be registered with the Moldovan Bar in order to be able to co-found a practice of law in Moldova. 

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

Not beyond the general requirements for the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

A foreign lawyer must have a contract with a local law firm or an individual advocate’s office.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Foreign lawyers are permitted to undertake arbitration in Moldova. Generally, they should register with the respective Moldovan arbitration seat.The list of arbitrators provided by an arbitration seat is not compulsoryand thus arbitrators that are noton the list may also be appointed.
If foreign lawyers practice pro bono mediation, no additional conditions apply. Otherwise, a foreign lawyer should undertake mediation courses in Moldova and, following an exam, obtain a mediation licence. If the foreign lawyer is already accredited as a mediatorin his own country, the step concerning mediation courses shall be omitted.
Furthermore, to provide mediation services, foreign lawyers (similar to local lawyers) shall create an individual or an associated mediator's office. If the foreign lawyer practices law within a Moldovan law firm, he/she can practice mediation within the respective law firm.

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

 

Foreign advocates are admitted to practice in Moldova provided they meet all conditions of the national law for the legal profession, except for the condition to hold citizenship.   Foreign advocates should team up and argue in association with Moldovan advocates.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

There is a nationality requirement which makes it impossible for non-Moldovan citizens to requalify as Moldovan advocates.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

 

 

There is no requirement for foreign law firms to obtain special licences to practise law beyond the usual company registration procedures. A foreign law firm cannot be a shareholder of a Moldovan law office, because Moldovan law offices do not have capital divided into shares.  A Moldovan office of a foreign law firm would be set up as a Moldovan law firm (i.e. formed by Moldovan advocates and foreign registered advocates) that would enter into a fee sharing agreement (for profits) and maybe a trademark agreement (for royalties) with the foreign law firm. 

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

See above.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

There are no quantitative limitations on law firms

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

There are no geographical restrictions on law firms

   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

No

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

Moldovan advocates may be members of existing Moldovan law firms, but cannot be employed by Moldovan law firms.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

Yes

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Registered foreign lawyers may be members of existing Moldovan law firms, but cannot be employed by Moldovan law firms. 

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

Ministry of Justice - www.justice.gov.md

Moldovan Bar association - www.avocatul.md

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Turcan Kazac law firm: http://www.turcanlaw.md/    (January 2014)