OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Portugal

Volume II - Self-Regulated Professions

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Portugal’s services markets are among the most heavily regulated in the OECD. As vital inputs into the business sector, services provided by professionals, such as lawyers and engineers, generate up to 1.8 times their value in outputs by firms that use them. However, structural flaws in the regulation make professional services highly expensive for firms, diminishing their ability to compete effectively. Regulatory restrictions also hamper innovation and efficiency within the professions. Against this backdrop, this report examines regulations for 13 self-regulated professions (lawyers, solicitors, notaries, bailiffs, architects, engineers, technical engineers, certified accountants, auditors, economists, customs brokers, nutritionists and pharmacists). From 923 pieces of legislation analysed, the report makes 348 individual recommendations for amending or removing provisions to improve competition, and makes a detailed inventory of the analysis underlying the work. Analysis of Portuguese legislation and professions was complemented by research into international experiences and wide consultations with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The OECD recommendations aim to remove or modify overly restrictive provisions in order to facilitate the access or exercise of the professions, to benefit businesses and consumers alike. This report identifies the sources of those benefits and gives estimates of their impact. Provided all recommendations are fully implemented, the benefit to the economy from lifting the barriers in the 13 liberal professions is estimated at around EUR 130 million a year.



Legal professions in Portugal

This chapter discusses barriers to competition in the legal professions: lawyers, notaries, solicitors and enforcement agents. In 2016, the legal professions accounted for EUR 823 million, corresponding to 0.4% of Portuguese GDP, and employed 35 631 people. These professions play a decisive role in the administration of justice. There are significant economic arguments for regulations specific to the legal professions which, when left unaddressed, could lead to inefficient market outcomes and a direct impact on social welfare. The legal professions enjoy exclusive rights to provide specified services and access to these professions is restricted. In return, legal professionals are required to comply with a range of regulations restricting advertising, licence quotas and geographic limitations for notaries, and fixed and maximum fees. The report proposes recommendations to reduce the negative impact of such restrictions while addressing the policy objective identified.


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