Monday, July 31, 2006
This is an addendum to my earlier posting on this subject.
As Yan Luo's comment to that post points out, I overlooked the fact that the reach of this regulation extends beyond Chinese lawyers to foreign lawyers, and very possibly the latter are the intended target. Yan Luo also wonders if this regulation is a GATS violation. My answer to all such WTO-related questions is: take a look at the relevant agreement. Very often there is no need to wonder because the answer can easily be found.
In this case I will ignore my own advice and speculate. On the one hand, the regulation could be viewed as an interference with the cross-border supply of legal services that constitutes a nullification and impairment of the justified expectations of foreign service providers. On the other hand, however, it is WTO-legal in a very important sense: it does not discriminate between Chinese and foreign service suppliers.