Brussels Update - ‘Summer in Brussels’
Burnetts' trainee solicitor Ross Galbraith has secured a six month secondment at the Law Society’s office in Brussels as part of this training. In this months article, his 3rd in a series of monthly updates, Ross discusses his research on Common European Sales Law (CESL) and his recent visit the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Summer is a lovely place to be living in Brussels; it seems to be the Belgian way to finish work and sit outside in the sunshine in one of its many cafes and enjoy a beer.
From being here nearly 4 months, I have noticed how laid back everyone seems to be, which is quite refreshing. A downside to the laisez-faire way of life is the Belgian attitude to consumers; everything is closed on a Sunday and shops/banks shut incredibly early during the week. This can be highly frustrating especially when I am normally used to ’24 hour Tesco’ and Sunday opening.
Since I last wrote an article back in May, I returned to the UK to visit family/friends and paid a visit to the firm. It was great seeing friends and colleagues and catching up; although I think some expected me to be fluent in French (they were left disappointed).
Whilst visiting the firm I was able to carry out a presentation on the work I have completed so far whilst on secondment, together with discussing topical issues such as the UK/EU relationship that has been dominating the news recently.
In particular, I focussed on areas such as the CAP reforms, Alternative and Online Dispute Resolution and the proposal for a Common European Sales Law; the latter of which I have written briefing on this month. The presentation gave me the opportunity to demonstrate how I can utilise what I have learnt when I return to the firm in September.
My visit to the firm also coincided with a Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast at Tullie House; this was another good opportunity to discuss the kind of work I have been doing to individuals and businesses who may be interested in receiving EU legal updates.
Since returning to Belgium, I went on a trip to Luxembourg to visit the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Law Society organises this visit twice a year, available to all trainee solicitors who are on secondment in Brussels. The visit was incredibly interesting; we had the opportunity to observe a hearing and although it was a Tax law case (not the most riveting) it was interesting to see how the Court operates and the procedure involved. After the hearing we had a meeting with a British Advocate General (AG) and also a British Judge; Judge Forewood. Speaking to the Judge and Advocate General allowed us to gain a greater insight into the timescales and hearing process together with practical problems such as translation and interpretation issues.
Following our meeting with the Judge and AG we had lunch with two of the Judge’s assistants; this was quite casual and again we were able to learn greater detail about how the Court operates and ask further questions.
We ended the day by having a tour of the Court; compared to many Courts it has a very contemporary appearance and feel rather than the traditional Courts we are all used to in the UK.
As for Luxembourg itself; very picturesque with a lovely valley running through the centre; that’s all I had time to see!
As we are quickly approaching the end of July/beginning of August (where the vast amount of MEPs and institution staff take their holidays) we are incredibly busy in the Brussels Office with many legislative developments gathering momentum prior to the holidays starting. Hopefully by the end of June we will see a final agreement on the CAP reforms.
This month I have written a briefing on the Common European Sales Law (CESL).
Next month I will be drafting a briefing on the Public Sector Directive. If you are interested in receiving these updates, please email Brussels@burnetts.co.uk.