Brexit update: Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed between UK and EU

On 24 December, the negotiating teams of the UK and EU informed their respective governments that a trade agreement had been reached by both parties.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was ratified by the relevant authorities in both jurisdictions and came into force at 11pm on 31 December.

The TCA represents a unique agreement between an independent country and the EU. It covers a wide range of economic sectors and runs to some 1,200 pages of detailed clauses.

It includes a section on legal services, as well as provisions on mobility, cross-border trade and recognition of professional qualifications affecting the legal profession.

It sets out the general principle of allowing market access for UK lawyers in the EU (and EU lawyers in the UK) under their home title, including advice on home country and public international law.

However, this principle needs to be read in conjunction with the “non-conforming measures” scheduled by each EU member state: the restrictions and exemptions which UK lawyers will face in their practice in each EU country. These measures can effectively cancel or limit the general principle of home title practice in some jurisdictions.

Since the agreement was reached at almost the last moment, it's not yet entirely clear how each member state will implement these general commitments into its national legislation.

Our international and Brussels teams are analysing the detail of the document and reaching out to UK government, negotiators, EU regulators and other stakeholders in order to update our guidance for members.

Mickaël Laurans, our head of international, published a summary analysis of the implications of the deal on the profession.

Our Brexit and the end of transition hub will be regularly updated as our understanding of the legal services provisions in the deal progresses.

For more information, email our international team.

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