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UK firms to remain in South Korea after Brexit

11 June 2019

On Monday 10 June, the secretary of state for international trade Liam Fox signed a continuity free trade agreement with Korea that will allow English and Welsh solicitors to continue to practise in Korea once the UK exits the EU.

This is welcome relief for the profession and, more specifically, the four UK firms established there under an EU licence who will be able to remain in Seoul post-Brexit.

Prior to this agreement being struck, UK-headquartered law firms would need to stop operating in Korea as soon as the UK leaves the EU.

Access to the Korean legal services market for UK firms is currently assured under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which the UK will no longer be party to when we leave the European Union.

Since the EU referendum, we have been working with the UK government, the Korean Ministry of Justice, and Korean legal representative bodies to ensure a smooth transition for firms and clients so that economic interests are safeguarded.

During many discussions, the Korean Ministry of Justice repeatedly told us that UK firms were highly regarded in Korea and that legal services will be a key component of any future trade deal.

News of a UK-Korea continuity free trade agreement has helped to reduce one of the many Brexit-induced issues for our members.

We will continue to monitor the situation and engage with relevant stakeholders.

Law Society vice president Simon Davis will be in Seoul in September for the International Bar Association annual conference.

He will be holding a member roundtable with the British ambassador to Seoul on 27 September.

We will also be organising a seminar with the Korean Bar Association on the benefits of using English law in international transactions.

Contact donna.evans@lawsociety.org.uk for further information.

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