Law Society of Northern Ireland (”LSNI”) President John Guerin and Chief Executive Alan Hunter recently met with Lord Dunlop, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State of State for Northern Ireland, to discuss the implications of Brexit for the legal community in Northern Ireland.
The LSNI set out the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland as the only UK region with a land border with another EU Member State and how the provision of cross-border legal services was integral to the offering provided by many law firms in the jurisdiction. Lord Dunlop noted that the unique position of Northern Ireland was recognised and given appropriate priority both in London and amongst the other EU Member States.
Accordingly, the LSNI representatives stated their willingness to engage with the Government by articulating the views of the profession in Northern Ireland and the potential implications of Brexit for the smooth provision of cross-border services to a diverse client base. These concerns are applicable not just to firms situated along the border with the Republic of Ireland, but apply also to firms across NI advising businesses with a presence in both jurisdictions. Additional issues on cross-border services were raised, including the enforcement of judgments in EU Members States and the centrality of mutual recognition in the context of neighbouring jurisdictions.
The LSNI further took the opportunity to highlight the importance of marketing the UK generally and Northern Ireland in particular as a destination of choice in the wake of Brexit. The LSNI set out its view that a minimisation of the risks flowing from Brexit must coincide with the maximisation of opportunities for the NI legal sector in the context of work ongoing at the Department for International Trade. The Society welcomed the opportunity to engage directly with the Government and it was agreed that the concerns and views of the NI legal sector would be taken into account on an ongoing basis as the preparation and negotiation process develops.