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The Law Society’s vision for law and justice – maintaining legal certainty through Brexit

28 April 2017

With the country going to the polls on 8 June, the Law Society has established our priorities for the next Government on law and justice. We will be releasing a full vision for law and justice next week. One of the priorities will be maintaining legal certainty for Brexit.

Co-operation in civil and criminal justice

Over the 40 years of our EU membership, the UK has built strong reciprocal relationships which have led to quicker and more efficient civil and criminal justice. In civil justice, these mechanisms have helped UK consumers, families and businesses gain access to and enforce their rights across the EU. With many UK citizens living, working and doing business across the EU and vice versa, it is important that both sides can continue to have efficient and effective access to justice. We will be specifically calling on the next Government to commit to negotiating civil justice co-operation with the EU through Brussels I and Brussels II bis Regulation.

The UK has also built strong and effective co-operation with its European partners in criminal justice and security. In the modern world it is vitally important that the exchange of information happens quickly and teams of cross-border investigators can work together effectively. The next Government should seek to participate in bodies which maintain a system of cross border co-operation of the courts and police forces such as Eurojust and Europol. They should also look to take part in specific criminal justice mechanisms such as the European Arrest Warrant which help to keep UK and EU citizens safe.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is also likely to lead to considerable changes to the legal rights and obligations of UK and EU businesses and individuals. It is important that an orderly transition to whatever follows on from the UK membership of the EU is achieved. As such, the next Government should ensure that they begin discussions on an implementation period with the EU as soon as possible.

Protecting the strength of legal services

The Law Society consistently works to promote the UK legal services sector and the strengths of English and Welsh law. Now more than ever, we are calling on the next Government to join us in doing this. The legal services sector is a success story in terms of our economic contribution and export value.&

Unlike other services sectors, the legal services sectors across the EU have established a series of directives which has allowed law firms to have a temporary or permanent presence in other EU countries with few barriers.

This network of firms has allowed UK law firms to support UK businesses exporting, and individuals with cross border issues. We are calling on the next Government to ensure that UK and EU lawyers and law firms continue to have mutual market access. It will also be important that UK lawyers maintain their rights of audience in EU courts and legal professional privilege at the EU Commission.

As lawyers we are members of an international community of professionals enabling UK and EU businesses. We work openly and inclusively to the benefit of our respective clients as they work together to develop business, trade and investment, and will continue to play a fundamental role in upholding the rule of law.

Tags: business | politics | European Union | access to justice | Brexit

About the author

Robert Bourns was the 172nd president of the Law Society. He is a senior partner at TLT Solicitors, where he specialises in employment law. Robert is one of five representatives for the City of London constituency, a member of the Law Society's Equality and Diversity Committee, and a member of the Regulatory Affairs Board Regulatory Processes Committee.
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