What the vote to leave the European Union means for the Joint Brussels Office of the UK Law Societies: business as usual, and a bit more

The UK's vote to leave the European Union presents challenges for the Joint Brussels Office of the UK Law Societies.

The day-to-day work of monitoring and seeking to influence the EU legislative process cannot simply be ignored. Although Prime Minister Theresa May has declared “Brexit means Brexit”, we will not know for a while what the new relationship between the UK and the EU will be, and whether the UK will still be bound by EU law and to what extent. In the meantime, it is therefore business as usual for the Brussels office and the summer period has been busy preparing, inter alia, responses to consultations including on the regulation of professions and proportionality in regulation.

Influencing the legislative process will certainly become more difficult as time goes on. Our “natural” stakeholders, the UK’s representatives, will increasingly see their own influence eroding in the legislative process. The linguistic skills of the Brussels office and our extensive networks of contacts will come into play to pass on our suggestions for better lawmaking or comments on a draft directive.

Focusing on our members’ needs and responding to their queries, concerns and priorities will always remain at the top of our agenda. The last few weeks have seen a significant spike in members’ inquiries. Practice rights and whether requalification in another EU legal profession is a failsafe move is without doubt a major concern, as well as trying to understand the consequences of leaving the EU on individual practice areas. All of these issues are moving targets at the moment, but it is very much within our role to monitor the progress of the UK’s negotiations and to ascertain what these would mean in practice for solicitors and their clients.

Last but not least, we are in an excellent position to advise the UK Government and the EU institutions as to what has worked well and whether there are policies or mechanisms, e.g. in the important areas of judicial co-operation in civil and commercial matters, family law or criminal matters, which would be worth seeking to preserve.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch at brussels@lawsociety.org.uk 
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