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Bar Chairman: Government must protect UK legal services' strength in Brexit process

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Responding to TheCityUK report ‘The impact of Brexit on the UK-based legal services sector’ (published on 20 December 2016),Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said:

"TheCityUK's paper highlights, rightly, the value to the economy of the English and Welsh courts and of UK legal services. The legal sector's contribution of £25.7bn revenue and £3.3bn of net export revenue must not be put at risk by Brexit. In addition to this significant contribution, UK legal services and our courts underpin the success of UK financial services. Ensuring that judgments of UK courts continue to be enforceable in EU Member States and beyond post-Brexit will be an important part of our continued success.

"Echoing the sentiment of TheCityUK paper, we must not take for granted the high regard in which our courts and judges are held around the world, and the role this plays in our economic success. Our judiciary are seen as independent and incorruptible. Our courts, in particular the Rolls Building courts, are a popular forum for commercial dispute resolution. In 2013-2014, a foreign party was involved in about 80 per cent of the 1,100 commercial claims issued, and in about 45 per cent of cases all parties were from outside the UK. This reflects the appeal of our courts, but also that of the barristers and solicitors who practise in them.

 

"The number of barristers handling work for clients based overseas continues to rise and, in 2014, over 10 per cent of the profession received instructions from overseas clients. In the same period, the Bar's international earnings grew by 9 per cent. Significantly, 30 per cent of the overall increase in the self-employed Bar's earnings in 2014 came from international work. These figures understate the position - they do not include barristers who are working in-house as general counsel, for example, nor do they capture work on overseas matters for clients based in the UK. There is a clear trend. This growth in international work enhances the UK's reputation as a partner with which to do business. That growth must continue post-Brexit and the Bar Council is working hard to promote the Bar and the English and Welsh justice system to overseas markets."