The trade deal with Japan announced last week could help efforts by UK lawyers to gain practising rights in the world's third largest economy, Chancery Lane has said. 

In a statement welcoming the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, Law Society president Simon Davis said: 'We welcome news that the UK and Japan have secured an agreement in principle, in a deal which the UK government expects will increase trade with Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion.

'An FTA will undoubtedly bring benefits to both countries and the Law Society sees an FTA as a platform for future profession-to-profession discussions to enhance further the relationship between the Japan and the UK.'

Despite several steps towards market-opening over the past 30 years, foreign-qualified lawyers still face significant regulatory barriers to practising in Japan. The country's 1986 Foreign Lawyers Act excludes foreign lawyers from appearing before Japanese courts and limits the provision of legal opinions to those relating to a foreign lawyer’s jurisdiction of qualification. The law also places onerous experience requirements on foreign lawyers before they are allowed to practise in Japan. 

However the Law Society noted that last month Tokyo implemented significant changes to the act, easing experience requirements for registration as a foreign lawyer and clarifying the scope of representation by foreign lawyers in international arbitration proceedings.

'The Law Society welcomes these amendments, as they will help create opportunities for the UK and Japanese legal professions, especially young lawyers looking to grow international experience,' said Davis. 'While this is a great improvement to the previous situation, the Law Society supports greater recognition of the experience gained during the process of becoming a solicitor, through the reduction or waiving of the experience requirements for registration as a foreign lawyer in Japan.'