What are we trying to do

Help those we regulate understand how the Government’s plans for EU exit may impact on them. This includes the regulation of EU lawyers practising in England and Wales and UK lawyers practising in the EU.

Who needs to know

All those we regulate to make sure they remain compliant. This includes European lawyers working in the UK (such as RELs or EELs) on a permanent or on a temporary basis, or UK solicitors working in the EU, or UK firms with offices in the EU.

What's going on

The UK has now left the EU on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement as implemented in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 and ceases to be a member state.

However, we are now in a transitional period running until 31 December 2020 during which time the UK will generally continue to abide by EU rules despite no longer being a member. During this transition period the status quo will remain. This includes the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and regime for registered European lawyers.

The Government will now begin negotiations for a new post-Brexit UK-EU relationship. The legislation states that any agreement must be in place by the end of the year. In a situation where no new arrangements are put in place in relation to practice rights (termed a non-negotiated outcome), the previous legislation prepared for a no deal scenario will apply, and people might find our previous "no deal" guidance helpful as a result.

Status of RELs

The Government has previously published three statutory instruments relating to the status of EU lawyers to implement changes in a no-deal scenario. However, it is likely that changes will be made to these arrangements if it appears that a non-negotiated outcome is likely. We will continue to work closely with government and will update our guidance to reflect developments.

Applying for REL status

We can still accept new REL applications until 31 December 2020.

Read our response to the Government's Technical Notice to find out more about what will happen if there is no deal.

Working in the EU

In the event of a no deal scenario at the end of 2020 the UK Government's arrangements will have no effect on solicitors qualified in England and Wales practising in the EU. The practice rights of these solicitors will be determined by the regulatory framework for lawyers from outside the EU in the particular jurisdiction that they practice.

Solicitors in this situation should find out their position by contacting the relevant regulatory authority and/or the local bar association or law society and take the steps recommended by them.

They may also want to consider the potential to re-qualify in the legal profession of that jurisdiction under the Establishment Directive, or under the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive.

We have written to solicitors who we know are practising in the EU.

The Law Society has provided further guidance for solicitors working in the EU.

Keeping information safe - ICO

The Information Commissioner's Office has produced guidance on preparing for and keeping information safe in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Its website contains information on the impacts and necessary preparations for exchanging data after a no deal exit, and an interactive tool has been developed to help you keep personal data safe.

Financial Sanctions Targets

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation has produced guidance about the implications for financial sanctions during the transition period.

During the transition period, the UK will continue to be bound by EU sanctions. UN and EU sanctions will continue to be implemented in the UK during this time.

Want to know more

You can contact our Professional Ethics Helpline for further advice.

We will also use this page to provide further news and updates as we get them.

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