The RICS could take France to the European Court of Justice if it refuses to permit a British building surveyor to practise there.

At present UK building surveyors are unable to perform parts of their job in France and other EU countries because they cannot sign off planning applications. At present, only architects are permitted to sign off planning applications

But under the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, which comes into force later this year, EU governments must allow people of suitable experience and backgrounds from within the union to carry out work. To comply with the directive, EU countries would have to permit building surveyors to sign off applications.

The RICS is preparing to run a test case in France to examine whether they will back down. It has found a British building surveyor, who has lived in the country for several years, who has applied for a licence for “full-scale recognition”. Jill Craig, the head of public affairs at the RICS, said he should know whether his application has been accepted by the middle of next month.

She said that if France fails to bring in the directive, the RICS will issue a legal challenge.

In a worst case scenario we will take this to the European Court

Jill Craig, RICS

Craig said: “We are testing the boundaries of the directive. In a worst-case scenario we will take this to the European court.”

The surveyor will reapply for a licence in the autumn, by which time EU states are supposed to have fully implemented the directive.

Craig said: “We’re very pleased to see an acceptance in the EU that applications for work have to take into account experience.”

The directive was enshrined in EU law in September 2005. Member states have two years to put it on their statute books