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Civil justice cooperation vital to post-Brexit relationship

22 August 2017

The release of the government’s proposals for civil justice cooperation with the EU post-Brexit is a step in the right direction, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.

The paper sets key goals in areas such as enforcing contracts and court decisions between the UK and the EU after Brexit takes place.

“Civil justice cooperation rules set the basic parameters that let us live, work and play across Europe,” said Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws.

“They allow us clear ways to resolve problems when they occur across borders, and give business defined rules to follow with the confidence UK business needs to trade and invest.

“Making sure these clear and effective rules continue or are replaced will be a vital part of making Brexit work.

“That is why the Law Society has been calling from the start for a strong commitment to retaining these important legal mechanisms. Today the government has given that strong commitment – and that important first step towards delivering on it.”

The paper sets some important parameters for the ongoing negotiations with the EU and makes clear the UK government is intending to stay part of key agreements such as the Hague and Lugano conventions.

The Lugano Convention provides for an almost parallel system of recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and  is open to the EU and European Free Trade Area states and we welcome this intention.

“The government clearly has a big task ahead of it to turn these ideas into details that can effectively replace the range of agreements and institutions outlined in the paper,” said Christina Blacklaws.

“Setting out this vision today is a welcome first step on that journey. It is encouraging that the government has chosen to listen to the concerns raised by the solicitor profession, and give civil justice cooperation the high priority it clearly needs.

“It will need to ensure that new arrangements not only deliver on the aspirations they have outlined, but meet the needs of both the UK and EU citizens and businesses who will use them, all while working through the give-and-take of the Brexit negotiations."

Notes to editors

Continuing the mutual recognition of court judgments was one of the Law Society’s key calls for the Brexit negotiations. The other key priorities it has raised are:

  • maintaining the EU-wide arrest warrant, a vital tool in fighting crime
  • maintaining legal certainty throughout the Brexit process
  • ensuring practice rights across borders are continued to the mutual advantage of all
  • securing the continued ability for UK lawyers to continue to service the cross-border needs of both businesses and individuals whether from satellite offices in the EU, or via 'fly-in, fly-out' services.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Oliver Searle | | +44 (0)20 7316 5624