On 22 October, the APPG on Legal and Constitutional Affairs launched its first ever report into the effect of Brexit on legal services at an event in Parliament.

The Law Society supports the work of the APPG on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and acts as the group’s secretariat. The aim of the APPG is to facilitate greater interaction between parliament and the different branches of the legal profession, and to promote dialogue and understanding of legal and constitutional issues relating to justice and the legal services sector.

The group has members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and includes members from the UK’s major political parties.

The chair of the APPG is Jonathan Djanogly MP and Lord Hunt of Wirral is the co-chair. Ellie Reeves MP and Bambos Charalambous MP act as officers of the APPG.

The APPG accepted written evidence and held two oral evidence sessions to discuss the impact that Brexit could have on the profession, the risks associated with leaving the European Union, and any opportunities that our new relationship may bring. The report makes 10 recommendations to government, a number of which were highlighted by the Law Society, as follows:

  1. The government should ensure that mutual market access is retained, as currently envisaged, in any transitional arrangements
  2. The government should seek to retain mutual market access as far as possible in any future relationship with the European Union.
  3. The government should ensure that UK lawyers are able to continue to serve their clients post-Brexit on a fly-in fly-out basis.
  4. The government should ensure that any future relationship with the EU includes a mechanism for UK lawyers to practise EU law via the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and law firm structures.
  5. The government should seek to secure rights of audience in EU courts such as the CJEU and the EUIPO.
  6. It is vital that following Brexit, the government provides for the ability of the legal sector to easily recruit skilled individuals from outside the UK.
  7. The government should ensure that our immigration system does not block lawyers from continuing to provide services in the EU.
  8. The government and the EU should agree on the draft withdrawal agreement as soon as possible to ensure a transition period which provides legal certainty.
  9. Any transitional agreement should replicate the current legal framework as far as possible to ensure legal certainty and prevent businesses and individuals from having to adapt to changes in their rights and obligations twice – once during a transitional phase and once upon implementation of a new UK-EU agreement.
  10. A ‘no deal’ scenario should be avoided at all costs.

Law Society vice president Simon Davis spoke at the report launch alongside the co-chair of the APPG, Lord Hunt of the Wirral.

The report has been well received by those who participated in the inquiry and in Parliament. The APPG will be pushing Members of Parliament to apply for a Westminster Hall debate to highlight the issues contained in the report and other concerns regarding the impact of Brexit on legal services.

The report can be downloaded  here.

The Law Society’s press release can be found here.