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Legal Services

Volume 660: debated on Thursday 16 May 2019

19. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that the UK's future relationship with the EU enables continued trade in legal services. (910939)

The UK is a world leader in the provision of legal services. English law has a reputation for excellence across the world. The political declaration outlined the EU and the UK’s commitment to ambitious arrangements for services and investment that go well beyond World Trade Organisation terms and existing EU free trade agreements.

Legal services in the UK are a success story, with the sector making a significant contribution to the economy each year. The Law Society estimates it at about £25.7 billion, with £4.4 billion in net exports and 370,000 jobs. That relies in part on uniform market access across the EU and the European economic area. Will the Minister therefore work with representatives from the legal sector to ensure that it is maintained by the UK-EU future relationship?

The hon. Gentleman is a diligent member of the Justice Committee, and he is absolutely right about the importance of the UK legal services sector to exports and its contribution to the economy. We have listened to EU leaders, and we understand and respect the position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and there can be no cherry-picking. Although we are not seeking single market membership, we are seeking ambitious arrangements for services and investment that build on recent EU FTAs. We are working closely with colleagues from the Ministry of Justice and engaging with industry stakeholders, including the Law Society, to achieve a deal that works for the UK legal services sector in terms of both market access and civil judicial co-operation.