Roundtable at the French Ambassador’s residence

We attended a roundtable event at the French Ambassador’s residence in London on 15 April 2019.

Alex Storer and Rita Giannini at a roundtable event hosted at the French Ambassador’s Residence in London

International adviser Alex Storer, and EU policy adviser Rita Giannini, represented us at a roundtable event hosted at the French Ambassador’s residence in London on 15 April 2019, in conjunction with the Board meeting of the Conseil des Notariats de l’Union Européenne (CNUE).

Participants discussed the state of play and the consequences of Brexit for the legal profession and reiterated the importance of strong bilateral relations between legal professionals in France and the UK as we await outcome of the Brexit process.

It's crucial for the future of our profession to maintain a close and mutually beneficial relationship between the UK and France. As the fifth largest global economy and the second largest economy in the Eurozone, France is a key market for UK legal services. We welcomed recent French legislation grandfathering the rights of UK lawyers and law firms established in France, and the introduction of a 'Foreign Legal Consultant' status.

We have a strong relationship with the French Conseil National des Barreaux, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding in April 2016. As of 2018 there were more than two hundred and fifty solicitors in France who had registered with us, mainly based in Paris. Seventy-five UK law firms had offices in France employing local lawyers and training more than three hundred French trainees. More than one hundred and twenty French avocats were registered in England and Wales, with most large international French law firms operating an office in London.

Our representatives outlined our work analysing the potential consequences of Brexit for lawyers and their clients in civil justice, family law and private client work, and proposed solutions. You can find more information about this work on our Brussels website. We're working with a variety of stakeholders in Brussels, including representatives of member states, European bars and law societies, and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).

Since the EU referendum, we've highlighted some priorities for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU:

  • continued mutual access for solicitors to practise law and base themselves in the UK and EU member states
  • rights of audience in EU courts
  • preserving legal professional privilege
  • civil and family justice co-operation, including mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments advocating UK accession to the Lugano Convention
  • respecting choice of jurisdiction clauses in the UK and EU
  • maintaining collaboration in policing, security and criminal justice
  • ensuring that legal certainty is maintained throughout the process of withdrawal, including transitional arrangements

Our international department and Brussels office are available to help with direct queries regarding lawyers’ practice rights and regulatory matters (see our guidance notes). The roundtable was well attended, and we look forward to engaging further with our colleagues in France on future legal cooperation between the UK and France.

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