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What the Article 50 extension means for solicitors

11 April 2019

The European Council decided in the early morning of 11 April 2019 that the UK’s departure from the EU will be postponed from 12 April to 31 October 2019.

The condition for the extension until 31 October is that the UK is to take part in the European elections in May 2019. 

If the UK does not take part in the elections and if there is no withdrawal agreement in place, the UK will leave the EU without a deal on 1 June 2019.

Otherwise, all options remain open, meaning that the UK can still choose to leave the EU with a deal, or it can revoke and choose (unilaterally) to remain in the EU. It may also leave without a deal at the end of the extension period.

On a practical level, this means that UK citizens and UK-qualified solicitors will retain their rights under EU law until the end of the UK’s membership period. 

You will retain the ability to practice in EU member states and will have rights of audience before the EU courts. Your legal status will not change until the UK formally leaves the EU.

The extension also means that the UK’s participation in EU judicial cooperation in civil and commercial law will continue. 

The UK will remain part of the Brussels I regime until the end of the extension and/or transition period, meaning that UK judgments will continue to be recognised and enforced in EU27 states as they are today. 

The UK will continue to recognise and enforce EU27 judgments in the same manner.

The UK’s participation in this system will not be changed without a change to the UK’s status as a member state of the EU.

Should the UK ratify the withdrawal agreement before the new departure date, the UK will leave the EU and the proposed transition period will take effect. 

Your legal rights will remain unchanged until the end of the transition period, after which a new UK–EU agreement is likely to take effect.

In the current text of the withdrawal agreement, the transition period will run until December 2020. This period can be extended until December 2022 if both the UK and the EU agree.

It is still possible that the UK will leave without a deal on either 1 June 2019 or 1 November 2019. We recommend that members continue to prepare for the eventuality of a no deal Brexit. Read our no deal guidance

We will continue to monitor developments on Brexit. See Brexit and the legal sector

You can also read more about our work on Brexit since the EU referendum.

If you have any questions on the above or on any other Brexit-related topics, contact us at: brexit@lawsociety.org.uk.

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