ECLA & ACC joint feedback on the 2021 EU Justice Scoreboard

On 8 April 2021, ECLA and ACC jointly submitted their feedback form on the 2021 EU Justice Scoreboard. Both associations welcomed the consultation on the Scoreboard and its broadened scope to support the achievements of the European Semester and the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. As noted in the form, by including in-house lawyers as a distinct category of justice stakeholders, the European Commission will gain a more precise picture of the state of the rule of law.

It should be noted that the viewpoints of in-house lawyers may have been included in past scoreboards in cases where company lawyers are full members of the bar. For example, French in-house counsel cannot join the national bar association, which entails that they have been excluded from the scoreboard figures of the past. Because of these national differences, the associations recommend adding the following research themes to the 2021 Justice Scoreboard:

a) the role of in-house counsel in promoting a culture of compliance within their companies;
b) the role of in-house counsel as officers of the court in the administration of justice,
independence of in-house counsel, and their relationship with legal privilege; and
c) the contribution in-house counsel to the efficiency of justice by resolving issues cooperatively
and effectively before they reach litigation, thus reducing pressure on the judicial system.
d) Collect data on the number of in-house counsel in each country of the European Union in order
to measure capacity to comply and promote the rule of law in the private sector.

In-house legal departments are uniquely positioned to promote an efficient administration of justice, by contributing to effective dispute resolution solutions and enforcement, while reducing recourse to judicial resources and, importantly, before the need for litigation arises. Moreover, in-house legal departments increase access to justice by lowering the hurdles of obtaining legal advice – an issue of particular relevance and key to global competition, especially for small and medium enterprises.

The full joint submission on the 2021 Justice Scoreboard can be read here.