Times Photographer Jack Hill
A “Canada-plus” Brexit deal would leave the legal profession “high and dry”, one of the country’s most senior lawyers has warned.
British lawyers would need a deal more closely modelled on the free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea, which includes legal services, the Law Society president, Joe Egan, said.
The society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, is concerned that exiting rights allowing UK lawyers to practise across the EU could be overlooked and then lost in the Brexit negotiations.
Egan said on Friday that if the two sides struck a deal mimicking the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, “then legal services worth more than £25.7 billion to the UK economy would be left out”.
Egan, a high street solicitor from Bolton, predicted that after Brexit there would be an “inevitable reintroduction of trade barriers with EU countries” which would “hit legal services unless they are specifically covered in the eventual deal we strike”.
He added that the EU’s deal with Canada covered goods, financial services and issues around the shared standards of manufacturing. “It is wide-ranging but not comprehensive,” Egan said.
“When it comes to legal services this means that lawyers wishing to practise in other jurisdictions may have to live in that country, register with the local Bar and seek full admission to that Bar.”
British lawyers can fly in temporarily to other EU countries to provide legal advice. But the society warned that some EU member states had “a tendency to put restrictions on legal services being delivered by lawyers from non-EU countries”.