English legal services after Brexit: Britain's most senior judge speaks up

28 July 2017

Since the British public voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, there has been a lot of comment about the possible impact on Britain's role as an international legal centre. Thinktanks, industry groups and professional bodies have addressed the question of whether and how Britain, and in particular London, can retain a pre-eminent role. 

The latest comment is from Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court1. Below I simply set out what Lord Neuberger said, in the introductory section of a speech called 'Access to Justice' which he delivered on 3 July 2017 to a conference in London of the Australian Bar Association:

"... The judiciary and legal profession in the UK take pride in the leading role which this country takes in the provision of legal services and dispute resolution.  We are determined that the United Kingdom's forthcoming exit from the European Union will in no way undermine London's status as the world centre for legal services generally and dispute resolution in particular. The common law which is so attuned to the needs and realities of the commercial world, will remain as attuned to the demands of international business as it ever was. Indeed, left, once again, to our own common law devices, we will in some respects be able to react more quickly and freely to developments in our fast-changing world. Brexit does not alter the fact that lawyers and judges in the UK are as internationally minded and expert as they ever have been. Indeed, like any significant change Brexit is operating as a spur to encourage all involved in the provision of legal services in London to strive to ensure that those services are even better than they already are. It also serves to emphasise that the UK is globally minded..."

It will be very interesting to see how the issues which Lord Neuberger addresses evolve in the coming years.

1 Lord Neuberger is shortly to be succeeded as President of the Supreme Court by Baroness Hale.

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