Solicitors’ post-Brexit market access to Switzerland protected as UK signs agreement on trade in services
The United Kingdom and Switzerland have signed a Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) which will allow UK solicitors to continue to fly in and out of Switzerland to advise clients in the same way as now after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.
The agreement will enter into force from January 2021 and will last for two years, with an option for extension. It ensures that there are no economic interests tests, no need for work permits and no processing times needed for UK professionals operating in Switzerland for up to 90 days a year.
It will apply to businesses of all sizes, including the self-employed, and also establishes a working group through which the UK and Switzerland aim to develop an agreement for the recognition of professional qualifications for service suppliers working in each other’s markets.
By significantly facilitating the provision of legal services on a temporary basis in Switzerland, the SMA addresses some of the key concerns that the Law Society had been highlighting to the UK government on behalf of the profession in relation to post-Brexit market access to this market.
The SMA builds on the Citizen Rights Agreement (CRA) of 2019 which secured enhanced practising rights for UK lawyers operating on a permanent basis in Switzerland post-2020 compared to other non-EU/EEA professionals.
Under the CRA UK lawyers have a four-year period after the end of 2020 to register, or start their application to register, to work in Switzerland under their UK professional title on a permanent basis or transfer into the Swiss profession. UK lawyers who have transferred to the Swiss professional title will continue to be able to practise under such title as long as they remain registered in Switzerland.
The trade relationship between the UK and Switzerland is worth around £32 billion to the UK each year, with 15,000 British exporters trading with the Swiss under the current trading regime, according to data from the UK government.