Eleventh-hour EU-UK deal ratification welcomed by legal sector

News the European Parliament has ratified the UK’s deal with the EU brings a degree of certainty to our future relationship – even if many questions remain to be resolved, solicitors’ leaders said.

Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said:

“We welcome MEPs’ decision to back the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which completes the democratic scrutiny of the agreement and means it can now become fully operational.

“The TCA contains some provisions on legal services, reflecting the importance of the sector, worth £5bn to exports and £60bn Gross Value Added* to the UK economy annually.

“For example, the agreement sets out the general principle of permitting home-title practice of UK solicitors in the EU.

“However, this does not result in much increased market access for UK solicitors in the EU compared to other non-EU lawyers. Nor does it change the fact that, post-Brexit, UK solicitors and law firms are subject to 27 different regulatory regimes, one for each EU member state, each with different rules affecting their ability to provide services to clients.

“Legal services are hugely valuable to our national economy and to our global reputation, so for us this cannot be the end of the story.

“We will be working with national governments, bars and law societies across the EU to improve the framework for the international legal practice of non-EU lawyers, for their joint practice with local lawyers and for international legal co-operation.

“We remain committed to keeping England and Wales as an open jurisdiction to European and all foreign lawyers, linked with a strong regulatory framework, and to enabling international practice for our members wherever they are based in the world. We believe the status of the jurisdiction as an international hub for legal services is vital for the economy and our reputation as a global legal centre.”

I. Stephanie Boyce continued:

“If MEPs had decided not to endorse TCA it would have thrown our economy and that of the EU27 nations into a shock we can ill-afford on the back of the Covid-19 crisis.

“But thankfully – right on the cusp of the deadline – their vote came in.

“Negotiating teams on both sides worked hard to secure an agreement in the interest of both EU and UK citizens and businesses – so today’s events are to be welcomed.”

She added:

“Meanwhile, we also continue to urge the EU to support the UK’s readmission to the Lugano Convention which would allow civil and commercial judgments to be recognised cross-border and allow ordinary citizens and small and medium size businesses to enforce their rights without taking up prohibitively expensive actions in multiple courts.”

Today's Conveyancer