What are we trying to do

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

Who needs to know

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 is planning for exiting the EU, and the Government is preparing for a number of scenarios. One option is that a deal will be done with the EU. The government's draft withdrawal agreement proposes a transition period (to 31 December 2020). Under the transition arrangements the status quo will remain, which includes the mutual recognition of professional qualifications as well as plans for a mobility framework for UK and EU professionals.

However, the Government is also preparing for a 'no deal' scenario. This has included publishing information on the impact of 'no deal' on EEA lawyers practising in the UK. The Government has prepared three statutory instruments relating to the status of EU lawyers to implement changes in a no deal scenario. So we have prepared information to help those we regulate understand the impact a no deal exit ,the statutory instruments, and their options should a 'no deal' scenario happen.

The timing for either a deal – or a possible no deal – is still uncertain. EU ambassadors have agreed an extension to Article 50 to 31 January 2020. Under 'flextension' clauses, Britain can leave earlier than January 31 if the new withdrawal agreement is ratified before November 30 or December 31 2019.

Applying for REL status

We can still accept new REL applications until exit day (currently 31 January 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

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.

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.

Open all