Last month, a trade deal was agreed between the UK and Australia and an Agreement in Principle (AIP) was published.

As negotiations commenced, the Law Society of Scotland issued a survey to the many members we have who have relocated to Australia and continued their career in law.

The information we received meant that we could bring real-life experiences to our discussions with the UK government, to inform the approach it took in negotiations on legal and wider professional services provisions, including recognition of qualifications, mobility and market access.

Although we have yet to see the final text of the agreement, the AIP gives an overview of the commitments that the services chapter will contain, including:

  • professional services provisions, which will deliver long-term benefits for UK and Australian professionals who want to work in each other’s territory and have their qualifications recognised without facing unnecessary cost and bureaucracy, primarily through collaboration between UK and Australian accreditation and regulatory bodies aimed at facilitating qualification recognition.
  • legal services provisions, which will both guarantee that UK and Australian lawyers can advise clients and provide arbitration, mediation and conciliation services in the other country’s territory using their original qualifications and title, as well as establish and drive collaboration between regulators with the aim of addressing remaining barriers to practise as a local lawyer in the other country’s territory.

The existing links between the UK and Australia and regular movement of people between our two countries mean we already have positive experience of engaging with regulators across the various states and territories.

Through our membership of international organisations, such as the International Bar Association, and involvement with the International Conference of Legal Regulators (that we were proud to host in 2018), we enjoy positive collaboration on topics of mutual interest with our Australian colleagues. We hope that this agreement will strengthen those links and look forward to greater collaboration under the terms of the new free trade agreement.

If anyone has any questions regarding the UK-Australia Agreement in Principle, please contact our Head of International Katie Hay at katiehay@lawscot.org.uk.

Key points

The main elements of the trade deal were agreed between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in London on 14 June.

The AIP was published on 17 June.

The key benefits according to GOV.UK include:

  • tariff free trade for all British goods
  • easier for Brits to travel and work in Australia
  • lower prices and more choice for British shoppers
  • enhanced access for British tech companies
  • greater opportunities for UK professionals in Australia
  • boost for UK services industries
  • slashing red tape for entrepreneurs and small business
  • access to billions of pounds worth of procurement contracts
  • stronger cooperation on shared challenges
  • paves the way to CPTPP

Read more about the UK-Australia Trade Deal on the UK Government's website.