How to practise in Switzerland after the Brexit transition period

The UK left the EU single market and customs union at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

The EU Lawyers Directives no longer apply to UK solicitors and law firms.

The 2019 UK-Switzerland Citizen’s Rights Agreement (CRA) and the 2020 UK-Switzerland Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) have secured enhanced practising rights for UK lawyers in Switzerland compared to lawyers from other non-EU/EEA countries.

The CRA sets out the rule for establishment by solicitors in Switzerland and the SMA the rules for temporary practice.

Conditions for UK solicitors to practise in Switzerland on a permanent basis after the end of the transition period under the CRA

Solicitors who have requalified into the Swiss profession under article 10 of the EU Lawyers’ Establishment Directive will continue to be recognised and to be able to practise as Swiss lawyers, provided they remain registered in Switzerland.

Solicitors registered and working in Switzerland on a permanent basis under their home professional title before 31 December 2020 will continue to be able to practise while they remain registered in Switzerland, with the same rights they had as European lawyers.

Solicitors, or those in the process of qualifying as a solicitor as at 31 December 2020, can also continue to register to practise in Switzerland under the same terms until 31 December 2024.

The UK-Switzerland agreement may be extended or expanded in the future, so practising rights may continue beyond December 2024.

Conditions for UK solicitors to practise in Switzerland on a temporary basis (fly-in, fly-out) under the SMA

Solicitors may provide legal services in Switzerland for a period of up to 90 days per calendar year without requiring a visa or work permit. The 90 days can be either continuous or successive.

The SMA will be valid until the end of 2022, with an option for extension. 

Resources

UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement (CRA)

UK-Switzerland Services Mobility Agreement (SMA)

Swiss Bar Association

Geneva Bar Association

Zurich Bar Association

If you have any questions, email our international team at international@lawsociety.org.uk.

The information above does not constitute legal advice. It was drafted by the Law Society of England and Wales on the basis of desk research, bilateral relations with European Bars and engagement with members.

The Law Society cannot be held liable for actions taken on the basis of this note or lack thereof. In case of specific queries, we strongly advise you to consider instructing external counsel to obtain advice specific to your business objectives.


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