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The lord chief justice hit back last night at the “lie” being peddled by the UK’s competitors that Brexit will damage London’s standing as a global legal centre.
Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said that Brexit did not “affect the quality or certainty of English law or the standing of court courts or London’s arbitration centres”. However, the perception of some was that this was not the case, a perception “fuelled by our competitors for their own advantage”, Lord Thomas told the Lord Mayor’s dinner in the City of London last night.
He said: “Rumour may insinuate that English law is no longer certain; that London is no longer a safe forum to bring disputes. Such rumours are wrong and unequivocally so. Rumour must be countered if we are to ensure that the life repeated does not - as it must not - be taken as truth.”
At the dinner, Lord Thomas joined the new lord chancellor, David Lidington, in urging global businesses to choose the UK for legal services. The justice secretary announced he was launching a campaign to promote Britain as the jurisdiction of choice.
In one of his first speeches since taking up the post, which is combined with that of justice secretary, David Lidington pledged to push the UK’s legal standing as the country moves closer to leaving the EU. Lidington told judges at their annual dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London at the Mansion House: “I want to seize the opportunity to project our English law, our courts, our judges, our legal services to the world and to new markets.
“I want to see the government, our justice system and our legal services unite behind a common effort to harness and project to the world a strong and clear message about just how exceptional this country is when it comes to its justice system and legal services.”
The justice secretary, sitting close to the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and other senior judges, said that he would launch a campaign shortly to “tell the world why people should choose English law if they want clear and flexible contracts”.
The campaign – to involve judges, lawyers, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Trade – will urge businesses to choose the UK if they want fair and efficient dispute resolution; unrivalled legal expertise and, for quality dispute resolution, London. “The message will be: choose the UK and you will get a global guarantee of judicial excellence and integrity,” Lidington said.
At the same event, Andrew Parmley, the Lord Mayor, told the audience that the UK had 10 per cent of the global legal services market – “the same as the US, despite the fact we are one tenth of the size. It is in our national interest to heed a sector held in the highest global esteem and deference”.