The annual Law Society of Scotland conference took place in Edinburgh last month, on the 26th of October. This year the Brussels Office was represented at the conference by Helena Raulus, Head of Office, and Eoin Lavelle, EU Policy Adviser.

Fringe event on the view from Brussels

On the morning of the conference, both Helena and Eoin took part in a fringe panel event, along with Siobhan Kahmann of Covington & Burling LLP (Brussels). During the event, the three panellists discussed how the Brexit process is viewed from a Brussels and EU27 perspective.

Siobhan explained how international firms have been dealing with the consequences of Brexit and outlined some of the steps that solicitors have been taking to ensure that they can continue to practice cross-border post-Brexit. She also described some of the challenges Brussels-based Scottish solicitors have faced since the 2016 referendum.

Eoin and Helena both outlined the possible outcomes of the on-going Brexit negotiations, and explained how talks might progress in the run up to the UK’s exit from the EU on the 29th of March 2019. Helena also outlined what might happen should a ‘no deal’ scenario arise, whereby the UK would leave the EU without first concluding a Withdrawal Agreement or agreeing on the terms of its future relationship with the bloc. A subsequent question and answer session saw a lively discussion take place between the panel and audience members.

Main event on Brexit

Later in the afternoon, Helena Raulus took part in a separate panel as part of the main programme. The discussion was entitled ‘Brexit, what are you going to do on 30 March 2019?’ and the panel was led by Michael Clancy of the Law Society of Scotland. The panel also included Dr Kirsteen Shields from the University of Edinburgh and Maria Elena Sanz Arcas, Scottish Power Foundation.

During the conversation, Helena flagged the main institutional implications of the UK’s departure from the EU. She also discussed possible timelines for negotiation, and explained how an extension of the Article 50 negotiating period could be possible under certain circumstances.

Maria Elena Sanz Arcas explained how the on-going negotiations affect her work as an in-house lawyer, as well as the type of work involved in planning for all eventualities. More broadly, she explained how the Brexit vote has personally affected her as an EU27 citizen living and working in the UK. Dr Kirsteen Shields then discussed the impact a ‘no deal’ Brexit could have on food supply in the UK, and outlined how the Brexit might affect the regulation of agricultural processes and food supply in the UK.