Exiting the EU: An update for lawyers

This report sets out some of the issues we are considering and monitoring closely. It is the first in what is likely to be a series of updates in which we will provide you with the latest information and practical advice.


Introduction

We recognise that people working in legal services, and those considering a career in law, may feel uncertain about how they will be affected by the consequences of the result of the EU referendum. This report1 sets out some of the issues we are considering and monitoring closely. It is the first in what is likely to be a series of updates in which we will provide you with the latest information and practical advice.

We want to assure you that there has been no immediate change to our regulatory framework as a result of the EU referendum. It is too early to tell what the UK's future trading relationship with the EU will look like, particularly as formal negotiations are yet to begin. But understanding the possible consequences as the situation becomes clearer will be important for all businesses.

Our Risk Outlook 2016/17 sets out key risks in the legal market and discusses how they can be managed. This report is about managing risks associated with uncertainty. We can not tell firms how to manage change, or indeed how to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. But where we can provide support we will.

We understand that many of you will have real concerns about the future competitiveness of legal services in England and Wales. Over the last few years people working in legal services have had unprecedented opportunities to innovate: creating new business structures, serving global and domestic clients in new ways and taking advantage of new technology. This has, in part, been helped by more proportionate and flexible regulation. But there is still much more we can do to help. We are committed to continuing to reform our regulation by reducing bureaucracy and increasing the flexibility available.

The uncertainty that has followed the EU referendum result does not change the need for reform. Reforms to open up the market to enable innovation and increase competition will be good for consumers, but also help the sector grow. Modern and proportionate regulation is essential for the vibrant and competitive domestic and international legal market of the future.

This report brings together information which includes:

  • latest news
  • potential consequences for lawyers
  • a checklist of issues firms may want to consider
  • actions we are taking
  • useful resources.

Paul Philip

Chief Executive

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  1. As of 13 September 2016
  2. Article 50, Treaty of Lisbon Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community, 13 December 2007, 2007/C 306/01
  3. UK will not invoke Article 50 this year, Government Lawyer says uk.reuters.com, July 2016 and May throwing full weight behind winning best Brexit deal uk.reuters.com August 2016
  4. Britain to seek unique deal with the EU, including immigration curbs, uk.reuters.com August 2016
  5. It is likely that there will be a range of other impacts on regulation of legal services. Here we highlight practising rights and some wider market impacts only.
  6. Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5/EC and The Lawyers' Services Directive (temporary provision) 77/249/EC
  7. Huge rise in UK Lawyers enrolling in Ireland, thetimes.co.uk, 11 August 2016
  8. Lawyers' Services Directive (temporary provision) 77/249/EC
  9. Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5/EC
  10. The reserved legal activities are exercising rights of audience, conducting litigation, preparing certain documents relating to probate and conveyancing, acting as a notary, and administering oaths
  11. Collectively the Lawyers' Services Directive (temporary provision) 77/249/EC and the Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5/EC
  12. See Declaration 17, Treaty of Lisbon Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community, 13 December 2007, 2007/C 306/01 and the case of Costa/ENEL, 15 July 1964, Case 6/641 ECJ
  13. For more information please see http://www.eftacourt.int/
  14. Theresa May: EU citizens' rights depend on fate of Britons abroad, theguardian.com, 2016
  15. Read Looking to the future: flexibility and public protection for more information on our regulatory reforms
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