Legal sector at risk without mutual enforcement rules alternative, report warns
Britain's £25.7 billion legal sector could be at risk if the Government fails to secure guarantees for the industry after Brexit, a new report claims.
The loss of mutual enforcement rules - which requires EU member states to recognise and enforce UK law and vice versa - would make Britain a "less attractive" place for international businesses to resolve legal disputes and draw up commercial contracts, Square Mile lobby group TheCityUK said.
The group is now calling on the Government to find a regulatory alternative that will allow mutual enforcement to continue, or risk degrading the "primacy of English law".
It is also urging lawmakers to maintain free movement for legal professionals - noting that more than 200 foreign law firms currently operate in the UK, employing more than 10,000 people.
"Many of them depend upon EU market access, London's position as a leading global financial centre and the ability to recruit English law qualified talent," the report explained.
The report raised concerns over the "knock-on impacts" if key sectors that support legal jobs are disrupted - including financial services, technology, telecoms, energy and real estate.
Britain's legal sector employs more than 370,000 people and contributed £25.7 billion to the UK economy last year, amounting to 1.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), its research showed.
UK sector turnover is two-and-a-half times that of Germany and four times more than France, which are Britain's two largest competitors in Europe.
TheCityUK chief executive Miles Celic said: "The UK-based legal services sector is the leading global centre for the provision of international legal services and dispute resolution ... It is vital that the key challenges and opportunities for the sector are addressed in the Brexit negotiations and that its competitiveness is maintained and enhanced.
"The sector is working on these issues and providing that insight into Government, allowing Ministers to draw on the UK's unique reserve of world-leading legal expertise.
"The best Brexit deal will be one which is mutually beneficial to the UK, the EU and globally and which allows for a clear and predictable shift from current business conditions to whatever new arrangement is agreed."