The UK government will put in place a temporary system to recognise the professional qualifications of EU lawyers post 1 January 2021 if no agreement is reached before Brexit, it has confirmed.
It is also taking the opportunity to look at the UK’s overarching approach to the recognition of professional qualifications from other countries.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued a call for evidence earlier this week on the recognition of professional qualifications and regulation of professions.
It says that, if no satisfactory bilateral arrangements relating to professional qualifications are agreed with the EU this year, on 1 January 2021 the government “will put in place a temporary system of recognition that allows holders of EU, EEA EFTA and Swiss qualifications to seek recognition of their qualifications in the UK”.
The government will subsequently make “appropriate modifications” to this system, informed by the call for evidence.
BEIS also pledged to ensure that individuals with Irish professional qualifications continue to have a means of applying for recognition in the UK, and that British and Irish citizens would have the right to work in the UK and Ireland.
The call for evidence that the government wanted to ensure that the way qualifications from other countries are recognised is:
- Fair, complements the needs of the UK workforce and maintains high levels of quality and consumer protection;
- Promotes a regulatory environment that supports jobs, social mobility and access to professions for individuals from all backgrounds;
- Ensures the regulation of professions is “forward looking, adaptive and meets the needs of consumers”; and
- Strengthens the UK’s ability to negotiate international trade agreements on recognition of qualifications.
Other issues canvassed include understanding the professions that benefit the most from international professionals joining the workforce, those that have a shortage of workforce supply and those that may benefit from negotiated arrangements in future trade deals – the latter is likely to be particularly important to lawyers.
Against this backdrop, and with the UK exiting the transition period at the end of this year, BEIS said the time “is now ripe to understand and explore whether the current regulatory landscape is right so that UK standards remain world leading”.
It is also looking at ways to increase social mobility and “determine whether or not there would be merit in having a UK-wide, cross-sectoral strategy for the regulation of professions (potentially underpinned by regulatory principles)”.