Foreign jurisdictions that compete with England and Wales for legal work are already seeking to exploit the Brexit vote, according to the Law Society’s incoming president.

Robert Bourns (pictured), a partner at TLT, said some have already started to press for changes in governing law and jurisdiction clauses in cross-border contracts.

Delivering his inaugural speech at Chancery Lane tonight, he added: ‘Other competing jurisdictions have an eye to the main chance, exploiting any perceived uncertainty or threat to independence. Some misrepresent the situation.’

Bourns insisted that England and Wales will compete from a position of strength, as ‘the fundamentals that have made English law the jurisdiction and governing law of choice remain unchanged’.

He noted that ‘Brexit is a fact’, while stressing what is at stake. Many solicitors rely heavily on access to the single market for their livelihoods, he added, while some 200 foreign law firms have offices in the UK and almost 6,000 Society members work in foreign-owned firms or abroad.

He added: ‘Although the Brexit vote causes some degree of uncertainty this is separate from and must not be allowed to undermine the unchanged efficacy of English law, of our courts and tribunals and our profession, which substantially predated [Brexit] and is independent from membership of the EU.

‘The Society will work tirelessly to promote this jurisdiction and support this profession through any period of uncertainty and transition.’

Bourns is to spearhead the Society’s ‘Pride in the profession’ campaign, aimed at promoting the vital role of solicitors in England and Wales. This will focus on the contribution of solicitors to the justice system, the economy and the community.