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Brexit update

31 July 2019

Dealings with EU bars on post-Brexit relations

We have been in bilateral discussions with a number of EU bars in order to secure the position of solicitors post-Brexit.

Below is a summary of the current state of play in relation to member states where a significant number of solicitors are based.

If you have enquiries about another member state, or a more detailed enquiry about one of those mentioned below, contact international@lawsociety.org.uk.

Belgium

We are working on a memorandum of understanding/mutual recognition agreement with Belgian bars to secure the rights of solicitors in Belgium after Brexit, based on reciprocity.

Branches of UK LLPs will be able to continue operating in Belgium.

List B remains open to non-EEA lawyers as an alternative for solicitors if relevant Belgian Brexit legislation does not pass on time (or at all).

The Flemish-speaking Brussels Bar has allowed applications by individuals who practised for at least three years, and then left Belgium and never requalified, to apply now for the Belgian title, based on Article 10 of the Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5.

France

The French government issued Ordinance 2018-310 on 27 April 2018, which provides for the creation of a foreign legal consultant (FLC) status by amending the Act of 18 November 2016.

Foreign lawyers admitted to a bar of a non-EU member state that is linked to the EU by an international treaty are eligible for the status

Ordinance 2019-76 (6 February 2019) grandfathers the rights of UK lawyers and law firms established in France. In particular:

  • Article 13 – Individuals – UK qualified lawyers – one-year grace period after exit date during which rights remain the same, and there is a right to take advantage of Article 10 of the Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5
  • Article 16 – Structures – grandfathering of all UK LLPs already established in France at exit date

There is a new test to qualify as a French avocat: Art 99 (for EU lawyers) and Art 100 (for third-country lawyers).

The tests are very similar to each other, and knowledge of the French language is a requirement.

Germany

In relation to individuals, new legislation will add the UK legal professions to the list of third country legal professions able to establish in Germany.

Based on intelligence we have received from members in Germany, the German Bar is going to apply the acquired rights principle to those UK lawyers who are currently registered under home title, and they are not removing them from the list.

This means that they should be able to continue to qualify as German lawyers in due course, should they so wish.

Branches of UK LLPs with their centre of administration/control in the UK will continue being authorised in Germany; what will not be permitted are branches of UK LLPs with their centre of administration/control in Germany itself.

Our relationship with the CCBE

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) is the organisation which represents all European lawyers through their member bars.

We are a longstanding member through the UK delegation. Of course, Brexit throws up problems about future membership.

For so long as we have not exited, including during a transitional period if there is a deal, the UK will continue to be a full member.

But the position on a no-deal Brexit is more complicated. The UK would continue as a full member, as membership is not tied to EU membership or being bound by particular directives.

However, CCBE delegations may take action to exclude the UK delegation from full membership by a vote in plenary session.

In any case, the participation of the UK delegation would be severely limited to committees working on European Convention of Human Rights matters under the conflicts of interests’ policy recently passed by the CCBE.

This would require the UK to step aside where it has no interest or common policy.

As a result, the UK delegation would de facto no longer be a full member.

The UK delegation will discuss the issue of CCBE membership further this summer, and the CCBE continues to discuss the offer on legal services it will recommend to the EU in the event of a free trade agreement being negotiated after Brexit.