Lawyers in Greece

Lawyers in Greece

Legal Professionals

Types of Lawyer: DIKIGOROS

All practitioners are lawyers without distinction between functions. The DIKIGOROS can give advice and assistance on any aspect of Greek law. The dikigoros can be considered a rough equivalent of an English barrister and solicitor combined.

The regulation of the legal profession is based on the codified Decree Law 3026/1954. The law is divided in four parts: The first part lays down the conditions for the admission to the legal profession, the second concerns lawyers’ remuneration. The third concerns the organization of the Law societies and the fourth consists of transitional provisions. There are roughly 25,00 dikigoroi, of which 16,000 are based in Athens.

Reserved activities comprise appearance before civil, criminal and administrative courts, convenyancing and, in principle, attendance at all major contracts executed before a notary public, as well as appointment as a bankruptcy trustee. Lawyers distinguish their titles within the profession through the following categorisation:

  • lawyer at the First Instance Court;
  • lawyer at the Appeal court; and
  • Lawyer at the Supreme Court.

When admitted the lawyer is attached only to a Court of First Instance. After four years of actual practice he or she may qualify to appear before the Appeal Court and after a further 4 years the Supreme Court .

A dikigoros can only practice within the area/jurisdiction of his/her Bar Association (Piraeus and Athens are considered as one jurisdiction). If a dikigoros wants to appear before a different area, he/she should be ‘legalised’ by a colleague registered in the Bar of the said area. This restriction does not apply to criminal cases.

There are no formally recognised specialist practitioners.

The DIKOLAVOS (unqualified advocate) can represent litigants before Justices of the Peace and One Member High Court. According to Law 3026/1954, a person wishing to be appointed as dikolavos must have a Greek nationality, be at least 21 years old and have completed successfully his secondary education or alternatively have served at least for five years as Court secretary. He must also pass an examination before a special committee. The profession is now extremely rare as it used to exist to service remote rural areas where there were no dikigoros.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

In order for a person to take part in the professional examinations the following conditions must be fulfilled:

The candidate must have acquired a law degree (see below). A trainee who holds a degree from a foreign (i.e. non Greek) University should have his/her degree validated by a separate governmental authority (DIKATSA) either by examination or by enrollment at University courses, prior to being qualified to sit for the training exams.

Note on grading of examinations in Greece (see in legal education below).

Graduates of law school need to register for a 18 months training with any of the 63 local Bars and qualify for registration upon passing the Bar Examinations (see below).

Registration with one of the 63 local Bars is a condition of the practice of the profession. In order to remain in practice, lawyers have to renew their registration annually on the basis of their declaration of continued practice.

There are currently no continuing legal education requirements.

Bar Examinations

The examinations are conducted in the seat of each of the 13 Courts of appeal. The trainee must sit the exams in the Court of appeal in the area of which the Law Society where he conducted his stage is located.

Examinations are usually held twice a year. A trainee must take part in the first or the second examination following the completion of his training period. If he fails to do so, he needs to require permission from the Disciplinary Council.

Examinations are both written and oral. First the candidate sits written examinations , successful completion of which entitles him to take an oral test.

The subjects examined are the following:

  • civil law
  • civil procedure
  • commercial law
  • criminal law
  • criminal procedure

The grade is 0-10. To pass the written exam the candidate must achieve a grade of six in the subject of civil law and civil procedure and an average of six in the other subjects. To complete the oral exams successfully , an average mark of six should be achieved. The Examiners Committee is chaired by an Appeal Judge and consists of a Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal and three dikigoroi.

The exams generally refers to “the practical application of the law” and in particular the examiners must be satisfied not only as regards the theoretical knowledge of the examinees but also their ability to subsume correctly the facts under the relevant legal principles. To this effect, a candidate is asked not only problem-questions , but also to draft legal documents.

Bailiffs

The Dikastikos Epimelitis (Court Bailiff) is an independent practitioner. Information about Bailiffs in the European countries is provided here.

Notaries

The SIMVOLAIOGOROS is the public notary who authenticates and preserves important personal and commercial documents. Although he offers a public service , he is considered an independent practitioner who assist in the administration of justice. A person whishing to be appointed as a Simvolaiogoros must possess an University degree and normally have exercised the profession of dikigoros or a judge for at least two years. Appointment is conditional upon succeeding a professional examination. Simvolaiografoi do not have any rights to appear before any court.

Information about Notaries in the European countries is provided here.

Other Issues

Mobility

In accordance with Presidential Decree 52 of 1993 implementing Directive 89/48/EEC practising lawyers from the EC Member States, without any age restriction, may apply for registration with the Greek Bar. Article 7 of the Decree procides for a Permanent examinations Committee consisting of five (5) members. This has been established in Athens operating from the premises of Athens Bar Association. Members of the Committee are an Athens Appellate Judge (having the rank of President), a Law School Professor and the Presidents of the Athens, Salonica and Piraeus Bar Associations.

After passing any necessary written and oral examinations set and marked by this Committee of the Bar in Athens they may become members of the relevant local Bar and practice as lawyers of that Bar. The successful candidate is appointed as dikigoros’ before the competent First Instance Court. However, if he has exercised the profession for more than 4 years, he is appointed as dikigoros before the competent Appeals Court and if he has exercised the profession for more than 8 years, he is appointed as dikigoros before Areios Pagos – the Supreme Court (Article 10).

There is also another qualification route for nationals of any member state of the EU who have obtained their law degree and have practiced the legal profession in their country of origin whether within or outside the EU. Under Law 1366 of 1983 (article 22) they may sit an exam organised by a Greek University Law Faculty. Provided that their degree is recognised as equivalent to that of a Greek Law Faculty they would be eligible for registration with a Bar of Lawyers in Greece as local lawyers. See Details of the Aptitude Test below.

Details of the Aptitude Test

The equivalence examination is both written and oral and is conducted in the Greek language (Article 9).

The written examination consists of:

  • Civil law (obligatory)
  • Civil procedural law (obligatory)
  • Elements of Constitutional and Administrative Law (elective) OR Commercial Law (elective).

The oral examination consists of:

  • The elective subject not chosen in the written examination (obligatory)
  • Elements of Lawyers’ Code and deontology of the legal profession (obligatory)
  • Elements of Criminal Law and Criminal procedural law (elective) OR Elements of Labour Law.

The successful candidate should obtain in the written and oral examinations a median grade of 6 (with 10 as the optimum grade). The use of language by the applicant cannot per se constitute a reason of failure of the examination.

In case of failure, the applicant may participate in the next examinations. No appeals procedure exists.

In relation to Marking the Aptitude Test, the successful candidate should obtain in the written and oral examinations a median grade of 6 (with 10 as the optimum grade). The use of language by the applicant cannot per se constitute a reason of failure of the examination.

As the Language of the Aptitude Test, the equivalence examination is comprised of bopth written and oral element, both taken in the Greek language (Article 9).

Legal Education

he LLB course lasts four academic years.

To acquire a degree a student must satisfy the examiners in 30 compulsory examinations and 10 optional subjects.

Compulsory subjects:

  • Constitutional Law I (general principles),
  • Constitutional Law II (insitutions),
  • Constitutional law III (civil liberties),
  • Administrative Law I,
  • Administrative Law II (judicial review),
  • International Law,
  • General principles of Civil Law I,
  • General Principles of Civil Law II,
  • Law of Obligations,
  • Special Contract Law,
  • Property Law ,
  • Property Law, Family law,
  • Law of Succession,
  • Commercial Law I (general principles),
  • Commercial Law II (business associations),
  • Commercial Law III (negotiable instruments),
  • Labour Law I,
  • Labour Law II, Insolvency,
  • General Criminal law,
  • Special Criminal law,
  • Conflicts of Law,
  • Civil Procedure I ,
  • Civil Procedure II,
  • Criminal Procedure and evidence,
  • Sociology of law, and
  • European law.

Grading in Greece

The grade scale for examination is 0-10, 5 being the minimum pass mark. The criteria for the calculation of the final degree is different: the mark of each subject is calculated by a certain factor (e.g. the factor for subjects which offer one or two teaching unit is one) and the total aggregate is divided by the aggregate of the factors.

Note that there is a different system for the Aptitude Test (see mobility) mandated by Directive 89/48/EEC

Legal Training

The examinations are conducted in the seat of each of the 13 Courts of appeal. The trainee must sit the exams in the Court of appeal in the area of which the Law Society where he conducted his stage is located.

Examinations are usually held twice a year. A trainee must take part in the first or the second examination following the completion of his training period. If he fails to do so, he needs to require permission from the Disciplinary Council.

Examinations are both written and oral. First the candidate sits written examinations , successful completion of which entitles him to take an oral test.

The subjects examined are the following:

  • civil law
  • civil procedure
  • commercial law
  • criminal law
  • criminal procedure

The grade is 0-10. To pass the written exam the candidate must achieve a grade of six in the subject of civil law and civil procedure and an average of six in the other subjects. To complete the oral exams successfully , an average mark of six should be achieved. The Examiners Committee is chaired by an Appeal Judge and consists of a Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal and three dikigoroi.

The exams generally refers to “the practical application of the law” and in particular the examiners must be satisfied not only as regards the theoretical knowledge of the examinees but also their ability to subsume correctly the facts under the relevant legal principles. To this effect, a candidate is asked not only problem-questions , but also to draft legal documents.

Governing Bodies

Athens Bar Association
Piraeus Bar Association

Relevant Legislation

Implementing Legislation (Directive 89/48): Presidential Decree no.52, 28.01.1993 – O.J. n.20, 18.02.1993.

Author: J Lonbay

Lawyers in other European Countries

Resources

Notes

See Also

Further Reading

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