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Preparing for the end of the transition period
The UK-EU transition period will end on 31 December 2020.
The UK is leaving the single market and the EU lawyers’ directives and EU laws will no longer apply to the England and Wales qualified solicitors. This means that there will be significant changes for individual solicitors and firms, whether an agreement is reached on the UK-EU future relationship or not.
We recommend that solicitors and firms continue or begin now to prepare for the end of the transition period.
Over the coming months, we’ll be publishing further guidance on preparing for the end of the transition period, including if the UK and EU do not reach an agreement on a future partnership.
A number of areas are still subject to negotiations by the UK and the EU, so we’ll update its guidance as and when the negotiations the conclude.
Solicitors can send their specific queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you can do now
- Review our 10 step checklist for law firms to prepare for the end of the transition period
- Use the government’s transition checker tool which helps businesses quickly identify the specific steps they need to take to be ready
- Sign up for the government’s business readiness bulletin which shares new guidance for your business and for your clients
- Review our guidance on the impact of the end of free movement of people and steps firms can take to prepare for this. Free movement of people will end on 31 December 2020
- Review the government, Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) guidance for UK lawyers travelling to the EU, EU lawyers in the UK and law firms operating in the EU and get in touch with our international team for information on national regulations in specific countries
- Read the Information Commissioner’s guidance on data protection at the end of the transition period including a specific guide for small businesses
- Look out for upcoming Law Society events on preparing for the end of the transition period
- Keep visiting this page for updates and look out for further communications on our guidance on the end of the transition period over the coming months
Providing legal services in EU and EFTA states
EU Lawyers’ Directives and other EU laws that apply to legal services will no longer apply to UK cross-border legal services trade from 1 January 2021.
UK lawyers working in the EU and EFTA states should now take steps to make sure that they can continue to practise after exit day, should the UK leave the EU without a deal.
UK lawyers working in the EU and EFTA states are advised to contact the local regulator in the country in which they are working for specific advice on their ability to continue to practise.
Our international team can also provide detailed guidance on the national regulations that apply in each jurisdiction in the EU/EFTA and support members preparing for the end of the transition period.
Email our international team at email@example.com to request individual country guides.
The government has published country-by-country guides which set out the:
- local legal profession regulators to contact
- where to find out more information on business and travel and visa requirements
For UK practitioners operating in the EU as third country lawyers, read our guidance on EU legal professional privilege following the end of the transitional period.
EU lawyers operating in the UK
The benefits of the EU Lawyers Establishment Directive for EU lawyers in the UK will end on 31 December 2020 too.
On 1 January 2021, EU lawyers will be subject to the same requirements and limitations as lawyers from third countries and they’ll be able to continue providing unreserved legal services.
Should they be in partnership with solicitors, they’ll be able to register as registered foreign lawyers (RFLs) in accordance to the SRA’s RFL regime.
The Exempt European Lawyers (EELs) regime will also end with the end of the transition/implementation period.
European lawyers based in EU/EFTA jurisdictions who are managers or owners of SRA-regulated law firms will be contacted by the SRA to confirm their transfer to the RFL regime.
All EELs will be automatically transferred to RFL status at the end of the transition/implementation period unless they notify the SRA that they do not wish to become RFLs.
Find out more about what activities are unreserved and the current access for foreign lawyers. For more information:
- read our guidance on registered European lawyers and how England and Wales will remain open after the end of the transition period
- read the SRA’s guidance on UK's Exit from EU – Possible non-negotiated outcome at end of transition period (31 December 2020)
- watch our webinar on registered European lawyers