Advocate General Michal Bobek considered that the General Court erred in law when it held that a legal representative did not satisfy the requirement of independence that attaches to the concept of a ‘lawyer’ under Polish law. The existence of a civil contract between the University of Wrocław and its legal representative, pursuant to which the legal representative taught classes as an external lecturer at the University of Wrocław undermined the independence of the legal representative and its professional opinion.

According to the Advocate General, an independent representative would be one who is duly authorised to practice before a national court of a Member State and is a third party in relation to the applicant. The lawyer should not be precluded from acting because of the existence of external pressure or any discernible conflict of interest that is based on the relationship between the lawyer and the represented party.

Applying this criteria, the Advocate General was able to find that the lawyer was a third party in relation to his client, and that as the contract between the University of Wrocław and the lawyer concerned teaching, not the provision of legal services there were no reasonable doubts as to the existence of a conflict of interest. The link between the University of Wrocław and its legal representative could not put the independence of the lawyer into question.

The Advocate General has referred the case back to the General Court.

The full text of the opinion is available here: EN and FR.