Protecting cross-border legal practice rights must be a priority in the government’s Brexit negotiations, according to a high profile cross-party committee.
The Justice Committee’s report, Implications of Brexit for the justice system, highlighted four key priorities: continue cooperation on criminal justice as closely as possible; maintain access to the EU’s inter-state commercial law regulations; enable cross-border legal practice rights and opportunities; and retain efficient mechanisms to resolve family law cases involving EU member states and the UK.
The Committee said that the overall implications of Brexit for the legal services sector give ‘cause for concern’ and warned that the ability of the legal services sector to underpin many areas of UK economic activity would be diminished without protection of existing practising rights there for UK lawyers.
Chairman Bob Neill said: ‘The UK’s legal services sector makes a £25.7bn annual economic contribution. It relies on openness, and its lawyers’ current rights to practice across EU member states help small businesses and ordinary people as well as large firms and wealthy individuals.’
The committee also argued that the Court of the Justice of the European Union should retain its jurisdicton in the UK, stating it is a ‘price worth paying’ to maintain effective cross-border tools of justice.
The Bar Council said the committee had reached some ‘sensible conclusions’ and, in its own Brexit Papers, called on the government to give EU citizens unrestricted access to UK jobs in post-Brexit Britain.
See further The Brexit Papers (Counsel, May 2017).