U.K. Lawyers Both Disappointed, and Delighted With Post-Brexit Access

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The last-minute Brexit deal gave some guarantees that U.K. lawyers will still be able to practice in Europe and maintained some cooperation on law enforcement issues.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an interview with the Telegraph that the agreement “perhaps does not go as far as we would like” for some financial services, he lauded the “access for solicitors, barristers.”

The Christmas Eve accord left lawyers expressing both “delight and disappointment,” the Law Society of England and Wales said in a statement. Most of the pleasure stems from the fact that the pact avoids the uncertainty that a “no-deal” would bring.

“We are pleased that the worst outcome -- no deal -- has been averted,” David Greene, president of the Law Society, said in the statement. “We congratulate the negotiating teams on both sides for ensuring an agreement has been reached with, at least, some elements for legal services.”

Britain’s legal services industry accounts for 552,000 full-time employees and was worth almost 60 billion pounds ($80 billion) in 2018, the group said. Johnson trumpeted language in the agreement that will give lawyers the right to advise clients across the EU on U.K. and public international law.

“There is some good stuff about barristers, solicitors, lawyers being able to practice around the European Union,” Johnson said at a press conference last week.

Serious Crime

On law enforcement, the deal has several clauses that guarantee cooperation to fight terrorism, serious crime and money laundering. But the U.K. will lose membership in pan-European crime agencies including Europol and Eurojust.

The U.K. said there will similar cooperation on extraditions to those between the EU and Norway and Iceland, “but with appropriate further safeguards for individuals beyond those in the European Arrest Warrant.”

“Where extradition of own nationals from certain EU Member States is not possible due to their constitutional principles, we have ensured there is nevertheless a path to justice in every case, for example, by obliging EU Member States to refer cases to their own prosecution authorities,” according to a summary of the Brexit deal prepared by Johnson’s government.

But even with a deal, law enforcement cooperation is “going to be clunkier.”

“Because they’re not in the club, there’s certain information the U.K. won’t be given access to,” Peters & Peters lawyer Nick Vamos, who led the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service’s extradition team for four years, said before the deal was announced. “It slows everything down.”

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