Labour appeals to lawyers for help with Brexit response

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Sep 26, 2017
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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town said that “we will need help to look at the issues”

Mary Turner for The Times

Labour parliamentarians are calling on practising lawyers to guide their response to the legal labyrinth around Brexit, a senior figure told the party conference yesterday. 

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, a former chairwoman of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said to a Labour Lawyers event in Brighton that “we will need help to look at the issues”. 

According to a report in the Law Gazette, Lady Hayter highlighted complicated legal issues around long-term insurance contracts involving EU jurisdictions and difficulty around freezing orders. 

Lord Bach, the author of a new Labour Party report on legal aid provision, made “a surprise appearance” at the conference event. He told delegates that cross-party action around legal aid had "collapsed for the time being”. 

However, Lord Bach won support from one leading legal figure. Andrew Langdon, QC, chairman of the Bar Council, which represents 15,000 practising barristers in England and Wales, said: “Many of the proposals put forward reflect the concerns raised by the Bar over the years. These include shrinkage of the junior Bar, the removal of entire areas of law from the scope of legal aid and the growth of advice deserts together with the loss of expertise and the availability of legal advice in areas such as housing, immigration and debt.” 

Langdon described the Bach report as “essential reading for those responsible for undertaking the Government’s long-awaited review of [legal aid legislation]”. 

Elsewhere around the Labour conference, a City of London lawyer criticised the party’s plans to nationalise private finance initiative contracts. 

The pledge from John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, received a lukewarm reception from Liz Jenkins, a partner at Clyde & Co in the Square Mile. 

“Renationalisation is certainly possible but it may not be sensible,” she said, pointing out that doing so would mean terminating more than 700 individual schemes “across a number of diverse sectors, with very significant compensation being paid to funders and investors in each case”.

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