Study on the Use of Public Documents in the EU

Background of the Project

In 2005 the Institute was awarded a major contract by the Justice, Freedom and Security Directorate General of the European Commission to study the difficulties faced by citizens and economic operators because of the obligation to legalise documents within the Member States of the European Union, and the possible options for abolishing or simplifying this obligation.

Therefore the proposed Study will be concerned with the extent to which legalisation (or equivalent formality) of a specified range of documents constitutes a barrier to the exercise of the freedoms established in the Treaties, most notably the free movement of persons and freedom of establishment.

The Study will examine the nature and frequency of such problems, the possible solutions in the context of the Treaty freedoms, as well as the creation of a common area of law and justice in the European Union. The ultimate objective of the Study would be the formulation of a proposal for the 'free movement of documents', perhaps by reference to the principle of mutual recognition according to which Member States would be required to recognise and give effect to certain legal consequences of the execution of document in, or relating to, other Member States. Such a proposal, if adopted, would, for example, enhance the mutual recognition of the status of both legal and natural persons and the simplification of formalities governing the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards.

A substantial advisory board and network of national rapporteurs have been developed for this project, representing all 25 Member States. In addition, however, the Institute will benefit from the assistance of those of its members with relevant experience in this field, and from other interested organisations, such as the Union International des Avocats (UIA). Professor Gillian Triggs, Director of the Institute, chairs the Advisory Board for this Study.

Please contact Justine Stefanelli ( for further information.


Final Synthesis Report

Executive Summary


Summary of Conclusions