Law Society Brexit statement – future of IP and UK-EU lawyers joint practice possibilities
Following the ongoing Brexit negotiations, the Law Society has released a statement about its work – and how it is preparing its members for all eventualities, as the UK continues to face uncertainty over its EU withdrawal.
Following discussions with its members, the Government, Parliament and EU stakeholders, The Law Society says it has identified priority issues, including:
- “Continued mutual access for lawyers to practise law and base themselves in the UK and EU member states, rights of audience in EU courts, institutions and the Unified Patent Court (when it opens) and for their clients to have legal professional privilege;
- Maintained civil and family judicial co-operation including mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments and respect for choice of jurisdiction clauses across the EU;
- Maintained collaboration in policing, security and criminal justice
- Ensured legal certainty throughout the process of withdrawal, including securing transitional arrangements; and
- Ensured Government collaboration with the legal services sector to continue to promote England and Wales as the governing law of contracts, the jurisdiction of choice and London as the preferred seat of arbitration.”
The Law Society says that the draft Withdrawal Agreement “contains some positive elements for the legal services sectors”, including relevant provisions on mutual recognition of legal qualifications, civil judicial co-operation, and
provisions for ongoing cases.
“The political declaration between the UK and EU also recognises the importance of having mutual recognition of professional qualifications and judicial co-operation in family matters,” the statement adds.
The Lord Chancellor David Gauke MP has also said that promoting legal services is a priority.
The Law Society adds that UK Government has gone further in its White Paper on the future relationship (July 2018), stating that they seek to join the Lugano Convention and explore a new bilateral agreement with the EU on civil judicial co-operation, “covering a coherent package of rules on jurisdiction, choice of jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil, commercial, insolvency and family matters”.
The Government is also exploring options on intellectual property –
including participation in the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent system, as well as building on existing EU trade agreements, including additional, mutually beneficial arrangements for professional and business services such as permitting joint practice between UK and EU lawyers.
The Government has also provided guidance on providing services more generally, including legal services, to EU and EFTA states – and the Solicitors Regulation Authority has also published guidance for EU lawyers practising in the UK.
The Law Society advises that UK lawyers working in 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.
More information is available at The Law Society.
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