On 27 April 2010 the Court of Justice of the European Union held an oral hearing in the case C-61/08, European Commission v Hellenic Republic, dealing with the abolishment of the nationality requirement for the performance of notary functions in Greece.
The procedure was complex, joining, along with the action against the Hellenic Republic, the Commission’s actions against five other Member States, while ten more Member States intervened in favour of the defendant Sates.
The Greek notaries were represented in the proceedings by our Law Firm.
Nevertheless, the issue at stake in the above case is not limited in the abolishment of the nationality requirement. The substance of the dispute in fact reveals the collision of two different views on the notarial profession: the civil-law notary on the one hand, which has a tradition of centuries in Europe and has been upheld by the defendant Member States, and the common-law concept of the notarial profession on the other hand, which the European Commission is seeking to impose.
The Commission attempted to transpose by judicial process into civil-law systems a concept of the notarial profession not acceptable by the majority of Member States. The important issue of whether the notarial profession should be exercised according to the common-law model ought to be brought into the EU legislative procedure and be decided by the EU legislator. However, the Commission did not dare to put it forward, because – as the Member States’ vigorous reaction before the Court of Justice has proven – it could never accomplish this reform by legislative process. It seems that it is possible for the notarial profession to be exercised in Europe in the way it has been exercised so far, without imposing one concept to the detriment of the other.
The case will proceed after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General Mr Cruz Villalón, at the sitting on 7 September 2010.