Legal sector must grow post-Brexit - Response to TheCityUK report

20 July 2016

The UK legal sector is an asset to the economy and it is of great importance that it continues to flourish post-Brexit, says the Bar Council in response to the new report from TheCityUK on UK legal services.

TheCityUK report,  UK Legal Services 2016: Legal Excellence, Internationally Renowned, shows an increase in net exports of UK legal services, up 11% in 2014 to a record £3.6 billion. The sector's contribution to the UK economy increased to a record £25.7bn in 2015 (1.6% of GDP).  

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said: "TheCityUK's report echoes the sentiment of recently-launched campaign of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, #LondonIsOpen. It sends a clear signal to the rest of world that the UK legal services sector, not just in London, is open for business. The report is a timely reminder that UK legal services make a major contribution to our economy. The Bar plays a central role in the UK legal services sector, both here at home and internationally.   

"Barristers' earnings from international work have been rising steadily for over a decade. Building on the strength of the Bar's reputation and its attraction to international clients, a number of chambers have opened overseas annexes in recent years. The growth in international work is a testament to the fact England and Wales remains a world class centre for international dispute resolution. It is, however, important in this era of increased international competition that the Government invests sufficiently in the justice sector. 

"As TheCityUK report points out, the UK is the leading international centre for dispute resolution. Some 70% of claims in the Admiralty and Commercial Courts in the first half of 2016 were international in nature and in 2015 more than 22,000 commercial and civil disputes were resolved through arbitration, mediation and adjudication in the UK. We also know from other data that in 2013-2014, a foreign party was involved in about 80% of the commercial claims issued, and in about 45% of cases all parties were from outside the UK. The popularity of the courts of England and Wales for international litigants is a reflection of the high regard in which our judiciary are held and the expertise of our barristers and solicitors. 

"The UK's position as a world-class global dispute resolution centre, and the popularity of the law of England and Wales, underpins the position of London as one of the world's top financial centres. The integrity and excellence of the UK legal services sector, including the judiciary, has created a trusted jurisdiction. This also plays an important role in attracting overseas investment into the UK. 

"Given the crucial role the legal sector plays in the success of our economy it is important that Government increases its support for the UK legal services sector and ensures that the sector remains internationally competitive as we enter a period of uncertainty in our future relationship with the EU as well as other jurisdictions. This will be essential if we are to maintain growth in our economy and ensure our continued status as a world-leading international dispute centre."

Ends

Notes to Editors 

Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  1. The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  2. Fair access to justice for all

  3. The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  4. The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board