Clarke challenges EU on plans for a unified European contract law

JUSTICE secretary Ken Clarke yesterday poured scorn on EU plans to harmonise contract law across Europe, calling the initiative “unnecessary, disproportionate and damaging”.

In a wide-ranging speech, during which he outlined an “action plan” to promote UK legal services across the globe, Clarke said efforts to establish a unified law across the single market would tie up the EC from doing useful work elsewhere, and could prompt “years of litigation as the new law gets tested”.

Clarke also outlined his commitment to helping UK legal services expand into new markets, with India – which bans foreign law firms and lawyers from practising in its markets – singled out as a key target for investment.

He also reiterated the importance of the new Legal Services Act, which will liberalise the way UK law firms can be run when it is introduced later this year.

“I want to make it clear that for this government, the City of London is a legal centre – not just a financial one,” said Clarke.

“The rule of law is one of our greatest exports but there is more that we can do to help UK legal services thrive.”