The Legal Services Department provides authoritative legal advice to the Director General, the Directorates, but also to Council and other organs of the Agency, to achieve the objectives set up in the ESA Convention. As such the Legal Services Department participates to the decision making among Member States, formulating legal opinions and bringing new ideas to formalise space policies and programmes in Europe.
For that purpose it is chiefly responsible for devising and implementing the Agency’s legal policy, for ensuring the overall coherence of the legal instruments, internally but also with third parties, and for assisting the various ESA Directorates with drafting any type of document that may have a legal dimension in the broadest sense or have implications for the Agency’s legal policy.
Its role is therefore both normative (drafting legal documents, rules and procedures) and broadly advisory (providing advice ahead of decisions, general studies, opinions). It is involved in the day-to-day workings of the Agency’s decision-making bodies (Council and subordinate bodies) and is also very extensively involved in the negotiation of agreements with third parties, the Agency being engaged in very many international cooperative initiatives.
The Legal Services Department comprises a team of Administrators having backgrounds and skills covering broad range of specialised areas, enabling it to deal with institutional and commercial matters, thus adapting to observable developments in the space sector.
It is supervised by the Head of the Legal Services Department, also entrusted with the duties of the ESA Legal Council, who is called on for all legal matters to advise both the Director General and Council, on which sit representatives of Member States and Cooperating States.
The Legal Services Department’s role also includes establishing and keeping up-to-date internal legal records (primarily the ESA regulations and instruments) as well as those necessary for finding suitable solutions having regard to the overriding international focus of the various space activities. It also contributes, through the participation of its Administrators, to academic-oriented activities, and to the drafting and development of international space law.