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.
The 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 cooperation.
“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 re-admission to the Lugano Convention, which would allow civil and commercial judgments to be recognised cross-border and allow ordinary citizens and small and medium-sized businesses to enforce their rights without taking up prohibitively expensive actions in multiple courts.”
Notes for editors
The TCA provides legal certainty for our solicitor members and their firms and, more broadly, other professional and business services.
The TCA also provides for a broader institutional architecture that will allow for a regular dialogue between the UK and the EU.
Ratification of the TCA paves the way for the ability to continue smooth data transfers between the bloc and the UK – vital in so many transactions – while the approval process for the draft UK adequacy decisions continues.
The fact the TCA has been voted through also means we avoid losing the provisions on judicial cooperation in criminal matters and delays to frontline police decision-making.
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.
*Gross value added (GVA) is a key measure of economic activity – it is the value of goods and services produced at an individual company, by industry or at sector level. GVA estimates the value of goods and services offset by costs incurred in the production of those services. Total GVA includes direct GVA contribution plus the indirect GVA generated through the UK supply chain spending, and the induced GVA generated through direct and indirect employees’ wage spending.
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