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Legal Services Sector

Volume 664: debated on Thursday 5 September 2019

9. What steps his Department is taking with the Department for International Trade to promote the UK legal services sector overseas. (912282)

Let me start by thanking my hon. Friend, who does not seem to be in the Chamber—[Hon. Members: “He is in the Chamber.”] I apologise. That was in no way an insult to my hon. Friend’s height or presence. I congratulate him on his work in the Justice Committee.

The Government are committed to maintaining, over time, the growth in the United Kingdom’s £4.4 billion trade surplus in legal services, and that includes setting the right framework in future trade negotiations.

There is always more than one way to be overlooked.

Does the Minister accept that, at present, the United Kingdom has the second largest market in legal services in the world and the largest in the European Union? That is because of the unparalleled access that British lawyers currently have to EU legal markets under the appropriate directives. Does the Minister recognise that if we are to avoid the 10% hit that the Law Society estimates would be taken by this country’s income from its legal services in the event of a no-deal Brexit, we must not only preserve maximum access to those markets, but develop a comprehensive strategy across all Departments to market British legal services as a world centre of excellence elsewhere?

I fully agree with my hon. Friend. Given that 6.5% of global legal services pass through the United Kingdom and three out of 15 top firms are based internationally in the UK, it is essential for us to work on a cross-departmental basis. The Legal Services are GREAT campaign is a good example of this ambitious programme. Since its launch in Singapore in October 2017, it has operated in more than 30 countries, with trade missions to Kazakhstan, China, Chile and Nigeria. Those missions are very effective, and they will continue.