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Brexit and the law - Law Society report

16 January 2017

Since the EU referendum result, we have been gathering our members' views on the impact that leaving the EU could have on both their clients and their businesses.

We have held roundtable events across England and Wales, discussions with our expert legal policy committees and with members of our Brexit taskforce. Both our policy committees and our Brexit taskforce are committed to helping the government with discussions and tasks in plans to withdraw from the EU.

From these discussions, we have identified the core issues for the legal sector and justice system to be considered in the government's negotiations with the EU.

1. Continue access for UK lawyers to practise law and base themselves in EU member states by maintaining, or introducing arrangements equivalent to:

a. the Lawyers' Services and Lawyers' Establishment Directives
b. the Professional Qualifications Directive
c. Rights of audience before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and legal professional privilege for communications in EU cases.

2. Maintain mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments and respect for choice of jurisdiction clauses across the EU (the Brussels I Regulation) in civil cases.

3. Maintain collaboration in policing, security and criminal justice to protect citizens, including information sharing and efficient and effective extradition arrangements.

4. Ensure legal certainty is maintained throughout the process of withdrawal so that businesses and individuals are given sufficient time to adapt to both transitional arrangements and any agreed new legal framework.

5. Ensure the government works effectively with the legal services sector to continue to promote England and Wales as the governing law of contracts, the jurisdiction of choice and London as the preferred seat of arbitration.

Our priorities have been submitted to the government and we have had multiple meetings with key ministers, officials and parliamentarians. We will continue to have regular talks with the government, parliament and wider stakeholders to highlight these priorities.

This report follows on from the two reports we published in 2015 which looked at the potential effect of Brexit on the legal sector. The first was an independent assessment of its economic impact. The second report examined the impact of the EU on England and Wales as a global legal services centre and jurisdiction of choice.