Simmons & Simmons has confirmed it is planning to open an office in Ireland, the third international firm to announce such plans since the UK voted to leave the EU.

Confirming the news this morning, the firm said establishing the office would allow it to operate in a market that is becoming ‘increasingly important’ since the 2016 Brexit vote.

The office will initially focus on asset management clients and investment funds clients, in particular, fund formation and regulatory issues, the firm said. It did not disclose details of when it plans to open the office and said updates would be given ’when there is an announcement to make’.

Ahead of the planned opening the firm has hired Fionan Breathnach, formerly a partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, where he was head of investment funds and financial regulation.

Simmons’ move follows similar forays across the Irish sea by US firm Covington & Burling and international firm Pinsent Masons.

A Simmons & Simmons spokesperson told the Gazette: ‘Establishing a presence in Ireland allows the firm to operate in a market that is becoming increasingly important for its clients following the Brexit vote; it also reinforces Simmons & Simmons’ position as one of the leading asset management firms in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.’

Ireland is seen by many UK solicitors as an attractive option if they lose their rights to appear before EU courts post-Brexit.

Earlier this year the Gazette reported that in the year since the EU referendum three-quarters of solicitors registering in Ireland were from the UK. More than 1,100 England and Wales solicitors registered to practise in Ireland in the year July 2016 to July 2017, far outnumbering the approximate 350 Irish-national solicitors who registered.

Under a reciprocal agreement dating from 1989, England and Wales-qualified solicitors are exempt from the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test when applying to practise in Ireland. The fee for a certificate of admission is €300 (£267).