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Brexit: mutual recognition hope for lawyers

The ‘genuinely mutual benefits’ of professional recognition mean that UK lawyers can expect a continuation of their right to practice in EU jurisdictions post-Brexit, a former senior trade minister has said.

Lord Maude of Horsham, minister of state for trade and investment in David Cameron’s government, told a press briefing it would be ‘very surprising if mutual recognition arrangements’ could not be sorted out relatively easily.

Maude, now a senior adviser at US firm Covington, was also a government minister from 1987-1992 and had a direct role in the design of Directive 89/48/EEC on which subsequent professional recognition regulations were based.

Continuation was likely, Maude said, because the ‘benefits on both sides’ were now well-established.

Sweden’s former prime minister Carl Bildt, another senior adviser at the firm, identified ‘justice’ as an area where early agreement between the EU and UK can be reached.

Bildt warned, however, that while the UK government expected Article 50 and interim arrangements could happen ‘in parallel’, the EU negotiating team did not match that expectation. ‘Their mandate is just a divorce mandate,’ he noted.

Jonathan Goldsmith, former secretary-general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), commented: ‘The lawyers’ directives are not standalone but depend on what will happen on mutual recognition and the single market overall. If we are out of the single market without exceptions, and have to return to WTO rules, then there are big problems.’

Mickael Laurans, head of the Law Society’s Brussels office, said the qualified lawyers transfer scheme would mean continued recognition for EU lawyers in England and Wales, but noted reciprocal agreement for solicitors and barristers post-Brexit ‘would depend on the goodwill’ of the EU’s 27 member states. Securing recognition was a ‘key objective’ of Chancery Lane.

Philip Buisseret, current secretary-general of the CCBE, said: ‘We hope the current model can be used to build something constructive in the future and regardless of the deal that eventually is negotiated.’

By Eduardo Reyes (Courtesy of the Law Society Gazette)