New trade deal with Australia promises opportunities for the legal profession
News the UK has agreed a trade deal with Australia that reflects the importance of market access for services in both economies was welcomed by the Law Society of England and Wales.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said:
“The UK-Australia free trade agreement (FTA) can create opportunities for our legal professions to work together to address the remaining barriers to cross-border practice, which will make doing business easier for clients.
“The FTA is a springboard to continue developing the relationship between Australia and the UK. The two countries already have a strong foundation given the long-standing relationship between Australian and the UK legal regulators, representative bodies and professionals.
“However, there are still practical barriers that prevent the realisation of the full benefit of trade in legal services between our countries.”
These difficulties increase costs for clients; limit international opportunities for local lawyers; and reduce the skills transfer and contribution to the local market, particularly for those without the support of larger organisations.
Another difficulty in trade negotiations is that many of these barriers are ‘behind the border’ and are not covered by these agreements. Therefore, it’s vital there is further cooperation between the relevant bodies to advance the seamless cross-border provision of legal services.
I. Stephanie Boyce added:
“Before the negotiations, we were clear that it would be beneficial for the legal sector to have a greater variety of business structures – such as the UK LLP – available in both jurisdictions, greater recognition of professional qualifications, regardless of route to qualification and without need for additional study, as well as increased mobility options.
“On the free flow of data provisions and the ban on data localisation, we urge the UK government to consider the specific characteristics for legal services. Legal professionals follow their own professional obligations.
“It is important that personal data processed by law firms are well-protected and that the fundamental rights of client confidentiality and legal professional privilege (LPP) are safeguarded in such trade agreements.
“We hope that the deal’s ambitious commitments on market access for services professionals will provide a strong step towards addressing these issues and look forward to seeing this reflected in the final deal.
“We look forward to deepening our discussions on market access and a simpler requalification system with our key counterparts, including the Law Council of Australia, and would welcome a clear framework for regulatory dialogue under the FTA with Australia to further this cooperation.”