LexisNexis

Venezuela International Trade in Legal Services

Venezuela International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Lawyers’ Act (1967)

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Abogado/a - lawyer

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

 

 

The route to qualification is via a degree course (5+ years in duration) at one of the country's Law Schools.  Upon completion of the degree any law graduates can register with a local Colegio de Abagados (Bar Association), without further examination, and almost all do so, although only a small group are active and pay their annual fees. Every law graduate who performs any legal professional activity must join a Colegio and register with Impreabogado, a form of social security for lawyers.

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

No limits on practice within the country.  Registration is with regional Bar Associations but you do not need to work in the region you register.

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

Only Venezuelan lawyers have rights of audience in court and can provide advice on the law of Venezuela

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

No

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

The ethical rules governing legal practice in Venezuela do not appear to prevent lawyers from adopting any particular legal form for conducting their business.  Commercial law firms have adopted a range of forms including: general limited companies and civil companies.

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

“Codigo de Etica Profesional de Abogados”  “Lawyers' Ethics Code”

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

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.

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

In order to practise any form of law, lawyers must register with the relevant local Colegio de Abogados (Bar Association)

   

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 is no requirement to register for activities permitted on a fly-in, fly out basis.

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

Yes, lawyers can apply for a business visa.

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?

A foreign lawyer needs to be authorised by the relevant local bar in order to practise foreign and international law as a foreign legal consultant.

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

There are no additional requirements

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

N/A

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

In Venezuela arbitration is viewed as an activity involving advocacy and it will be, as a general rule, be reserved to Venezuelan qualified lawyers. However, article 14 of the Regulations of the Lawyers’ Act stipulates that foreign lawyers could be authorised by the local bar association to practice in Venezuela if they have been hired by a private person or company for the performance of functions involving legal knowledge, as in the case for an international arbitration. 

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

 

No, not without requalifying

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

 

Lawyers from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Spain and Peru can practise Venezuelan Law as long as they take an exam similar to a bar exam.  If they are successful in passing this exam, they will not have to fulfil the requirement of attending a Venezuelan Law School prior to admission.
Foreign lawyers from other jurisdictions must submit their law school syllabus to a Venezuelan Law School for validation.  The law school will decide which classes the foreign lawyer will need to take prior to being admitted to practise law in Venezuela.  It may also be necessary to complete a legal dissertation and/or a 20 week unpaid governmental legal placement. 

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

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

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements. Foreign firms are permitted to establish a commercial presence (a permanent office) to offer advisory services in foreign and international law subject to the limits on foreign participation in the legal sector.

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)

Foreign firms must register with the commercial registry. Foreign investment is defined by Law 2095 as: 1) Contributions originating from outside the country, belonging to foreign nationals, that will become part of a firm’s capital, in freely exchangeable currency or tangible goods, such as industrial plants, new or refurbished machines, new or refurbished equipment, replacements, parts, primary materials or intermediate products. 2)Investments or re-investments that follow this law, made in national currency, that are the property of foreign nationals or firms, originating from utilities, capital gains, interest, or loan payments. Participation in firms and other rights or resources over which foreign investors have the right to transfer abroad. 3)The conversion of foreign debt into investment that is the property of foreign nationals. or 4) Tangible technological contributions such as brands, industrial models, technical assistance and patented non-presented methods that may be present in physical goods, technical documents or instructions.

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?

Not applicable

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

Not applicable

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? Not beyond the requirements on individual foreign lawyer
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? There are no additional requirements on law firms beyond those imposed on foreign companies in general.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? There are no additional limitations on names for foreign law firms beyond those imposed on companies in general.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Not applicable

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

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

Foreign equity participation in professional firms is restricted to a maximum of 19.9 percent

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

For links to licensing bodies including regional bars in Venezuela:  Colegio de Abogados de Caracas,
Ofc.301. Av. Paéz, El Paraiso
Tel: 461-2874
http://www.ilustrecolegiodeabogadosdecaracas.com/