TheCityUK, the UK's financial services industry body, has today called on the government to do more to protect the country's legal industry post-Brexit.
In a new report, TheCityUK revealed that the UK legal sector's trade surplus – or how much its exports exceeded its imports – amounted to £4bn in 2016. Total revenue generated by legal activities in the UK last year was £31.5bn.
But the report has argued that the government must do more to support the primacy of English law, and secure the sector's continued access to European markets and its leading international position.
“English law and the UK-based legal services sector are a vital national asset and will be critical to Britain’s success post-Brexit,” said Gary Campkin, director of policy and strategy at TheCityUK.
“TheCityUK strongly supports the UK government's intention to maintain close judicial cooperation with the EU on civil matters, and the launching of the ‘Legal Services is Great’ campaign to promote the UK abroad.”
However, Campkin added that the government needed to do more to to put these commitments into action, primarily by mapping out the process of its accession to The Hague and Lugano Conventions which cover matters such as what country has jurisdiction.
He also said that the UK must bring the Rome I and Rome II instruments, which cover the law applicable when there is a conflict of laws between European countries, into UK legislation.
According to TheCityUK's data, legal services make up 1.5 per cent of the UK economy and employ more than 311,000 people – two thirds of whom are based outside of London. Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol are all strong legal services centres behind the Capital.
English law is used in 40 per cent of all global corporate arbitrations, TheCityUK found, while 27 per cent of the world's 320 jurisdictions use English common law.
Earlier this year, The City of London's Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley said that the UK legal sector would carry the country through Brexit due to the “incorruptible” nature of the judiciary, the “outstanding quality, certainty and flexibility” of English law and the leadership of London in international dispute resolution.
Meanwhile Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, argued that exiting the EU will act as a “spur” to improvements within the legal profession.