Smooth business travel to Switzerland set to continue following mobility agreement extension
The extension of a Swiss-UK professional services travel agreement is good news for lawyers and law firms doing business between the two countries, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.
Lawyers and other service providers from the UK can continue to travel to Switzerland for up to 90 days a year without a short-stay permit, after the two countries agreed to extend their Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) until the end of 2025.
Law Society Vice President Nick Emmerson said: “The three-year extension to the travel agreement for people providing professional services, which had been due to expire at the end of this year, means solicitors of UK nationality can continue flying in and out of Switzerland for up to three months a year under similar conditions to those which were in place before the UK left the single market.”
The Law Society has been one of the organisations pushing for this outcome on behalf of our members ever since the UK and Switzerland announced they were negotiating new trade arrangements earlier this year.
Nick Emmerson added: “The Law Society has been arguing that the business travel arrangements* with Switzerland are beneficial to the sector and should therefore be extended beyond the end of 2022.
“Switzerland and the UK are also about to start negotiating a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and discussing new arrangements for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
“We believe the SMA provisions should be incorporated into a new FTA, so as to be extended indefinitely to the benefit of both countries.
“There are further benefits for the legal sector of another temporary agreement: the UK-Switzerland Citizens’ Rights Agreement of 2018**, which gives UK lawyers the ability to register to practise under their home title in Switzerland permanently.
“They can also requalify as Swiss lawyers after three years of registration and continuous practice in the country (see Citizens Rights Agreement Articles 29-33). We believe these provisions should be extended beyond their current expiry date of 2024.”
The Law Society believes it is vital for UK trade negotiators to put legal and other professional services at the forefront of ongoing and forthcoming trade discussions due to the economic importance of the sector, both in its own right and in its role as a facilitator of all international business transactions.
We recommend that the trade agreements the UK is negotiating around the world should seek the ability for UK lawyers to do the following:
• Advise clients on home-country laws and public and private international law;
• Provide advice through commercial presence for firms, temporary practice (fly-in fly-out), establishment rights for individuals, as well as digital provision;
• Have a clear, transparent and proportionate path to requalification into the host state profession;
• Represent and advise their clients in arbitration, conciliation and mediation in international proceedings; and act as arbitrators, mediators and conciliators;
• Partner with, employ and be employed by local lawyers.
Notes to editors
• * Article 12 and Annex 1 of the Services Mobility Agreement in particular.
• **View the Citizens’ Rights Agreement
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