This week, more than 2,000 delegates – lawyers, business leaders and ministers from around the world – are descending on London for the UK’s first Global Law Summit. Two years in the planning, its genesis lies in the government’s desire to promote the UK’s international standing in legal services in an increasingly competitive world-wide market.
The last few years have been tough, very tough. But thankfully, due to the difficult decisions taken by this government over the last five years, it now looks as if the economy might just be turning a corner. Last week we had an excellent set of employment figures. Real wages are on the up, and inflation remains low.
Our legal sector has very much been a part of paving our way back to economic prosperity. Our economy is what it is not just through the export of goods and services, but also through the export of the rule of law. London is unrivalled as a financial and legal centre. We have a well-deserved reputation as a global place to do business. It is a reputation that will continue, and it’s one that adds billions to our GDP.
The legal sector is making a vital contribution to our long-term economic plan of getting the country back on a sustainable financial footing, and I want to do everything I can to promote it. As a government, we have made it our priority to stand up for British business and drive jobs and growth. I might not be a lawyer myself, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do everything I can to help foster the right environment for our legal sector to continue to thrive. Showcasing it at the Global Law Summit is just part of that.
This year also marks, of course, the eight-hundredth anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta – a document upon which not only our own democracy and legal system is based, but which also underpins the US Constitution. Our adherence to the principles espoused in this document – principles of justice, fairness and impartiality – means that the UK is seen as a gold standard around the world, even at a time when other countries might seem to be pulling up the drawbridge.
Magna Carta itself might be centuries old, but its values are no less relevant in the modern world than they were hundreds of years ago. They give families, entrepreneurs and businessmen confidence that the rewards of their hard work are safe. They secure property rights, fair trade, and free and open markets. They underpin good governance and act as a check on tyranny and corruption. The rule of law is, in short, absolutely integral to life here, and in every other democracy in the world.
I am incredibly proud of our legal heritage, and I am delighted this week’s Summit affords us the opportunity both to celebrate it and to set it in a modern context, promoting the centres of legal excellence and expertise in Britain today.