The Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office held two seminars on acquired rights. The first one, sponsored by Alyn Smith MEP, took place in the European Parliament at 11:00 and the second one in our offices at Avenue des Nerviens at 18:00. The latter was followed by refreshments and a chance for networking.

Now that the negotiating directives from the EU and PM May’s proposals on acquired rights have been published, the regimes governing the rights of citizens and businesses appear even more complex than could have previously been envisaged. In the spotlight has been the right of residence for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU - but the right to residence has little value without the ability to work or continue to exercise a profession. It is equally (if not more) important to bring to the fore questions about how to preserve or at least ring-fence the right of establishment and/or the freedom to provide services. Such rights must be enforceable and the legal community needs to continue to be able to represent its clients with legal certainty across borders. Without this, access to justice and the protection of legal professional privilege cannot be guaranteed.

As the UK begins the preparations to withdraw from the EU, the question now arises how to set arrangements for a smooth transition, with minimal impact on citizens, employers and workers. To what extent can these rights be maintained for individuals and businesses who have been exercising them, whether it be their right to residence, their ability to rely on the mutual recognition of qualifications or simply to continue established businesses cross-border?

Our panellists were:

  • Professor Andrea Biondi, King’s College London
  • Jane Golding, Chair, British in Europe, Of Counsel, Kemmlers
  • David Greene, Chair of the Legal Affairs and Policy Board, the Law Society of England and Wales, Senior Partner and Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group and Group Action Litigation Department at Edwin Coe LLP
  • Helena Raulus, Head of the Joint UK Law Societies Brussels Office