Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Brexit – What’s the latest?

One thing we know for sure is that there will most certainly be an impact on the legal sector but the uncertainty around exactly how this will be impacted is concerning.

A “no-deal” Brexit is on the cards and this is something that all of us, particularly in the legal sector wish to avoid. The consequences of a “no-deal” Brexit are huge and these issues have been raised with the government to take into consideration.

What risks do we know about so far?

  • No access to market and practising rights could mean an impact on the UK as they risk losing business or clients will start taking their business elsewhere in Europe;
  • 31 Different regulatory systems to contend with;
  • Loss of business to the UK of almost £3bn over the next 7 years;
  • Loss of rights of audience, meaning restriction on ability to provide clients with a good and full service;
  • Limit the ability to recruit talented individuals;
  • Equality and Diversity may be affected if there is no ability to recruit outside of the UK.

The uncertainty around these risks is unsettling but the mutual market access being pushed to be at the heart of the Brexit priorities will certainly go a long way to minimising the effect of coming out of the single market. We have to remember just how much of an asset Legal services are to Britain’s exports being worth almost £30bn annually, this is not a figure that I believe the government would be willing to lose so easily.

Contingency Planning is rife in the legal sector at this moment in time but implementation of these could be disruptive and costly. Holding off for as long as possible although we have already seen the increase in admissions to the roll in Ireland. Admissions to the law society of Ireland has increased by approximately 500 (5%) whereas admissions to England and Wales is reducing by 20%.

One thing to consider is the difference in the requirements for the Law Society of Ireland. The change to CPD schemes, as in Ireland you still have to achieve 20 CPD points per annum in order to obtain your practicing certificate. This differs from the SRA’s continuing competency in the UK so again will need to be included in your contingency plan should this be an avenue that you are pursuing.

Simmons & Simmons have confirmed that they have officially opened their first office in Dublin! They are the first top 500 firm to make this move in preparation for Brexit. Will this move begin a landslide of other firms following suit? Only time will tell but it certainly is a leap in that direction.

What has been requested?

  • A transition Agreement to prevent the impact of Brexit land sliding the industry.
  • Mutual recognition of professional qualifications has been requested
  • Limited impact on immigration in relation to recruitment
  • Access to mutual markets
  • Clear advice and guidance on exactly what law will be applicable in advance of Brexit.

What has been confirmed?

The Budget was announced on 29th October and there are a few changes which will impact the Legal sector.

One thing to note is that the budget allows an extra £500m for preparations for leaving the EU, so allowing for the financial impact of such a huge change.

Whilst the uncertainty of Brexit is obvious, we do have an idea of what aspects will impact us directly. Providing we as businesses understand these risks and what they mean we can look to plan and mitigate some of the circumstances that may arise.


Author: Laura Wilkes