The legal industry has joined forces with other professions and business services to set out the EU market access they will need to ensure Brexit does not curtail their work.
Some 42 members of the Professional and Business Services Council (PBSC) – including 12 legal representatives – sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Theresa May to highlight the importance of what they do to the economy.
The PBSC brings together the law, accountancy, consultancy, architecture, surveying and advertising industries, amongst others. The letter came from the desk of Nick Owen, chairman of Deloitte North West Europe and the PBSC’s business chair.
Signatories included the law societies of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, as well as the Bar Council.
The law firms that signed the letter were Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Slaughter & May.
They told the prime minister that the sectors the PBSC represented employed 4.6m people “and contributed £188bn in gross value to Britain’s bottom line”.
The letter said: “Our professional services combine to keep the wheels of the British economy turning. Together we are worth more than the manufacturing, mining and extractive industries combined, exporting £66.1bn annually.”
To “continue to serve our clients and support the wider economy after the UK leaves the EU”, the PSBC said that it wanted to see:
- Mutual recognition of professional qualifications, products and operating licences;
- Mutual recognition of the regulatory frameworks and regulators, from data protection to audiovisual media policy laws to statutory audits;
- The ability of UK service providers to fly in-fly out to facilitate advice across the EU27 and trade across Europe;
- Mutual recognition of judgments so deals across EU27 countries can proceed with legal certainty;
- Continued co-operation in areas that facilitate trade, such as data sharing;
- The ability to educate and recruit the best talent from overseas, whether from the EU or beyond; and
- Reduced uncertainty through any transition period.
“The UK can achieve these requirements by agreeing a deal with the EU that takes our needs into account.
“Failing to negotiate these elements would impair our ability to provide our services with the same range, depth and speed our clients around the world experience today, damaging their businesses and putting our sectors at a distinct competitive disadvantage,” the letter said.