Solicitors hopeful that registering in Ireland will enable them to preserve EU practising rights post-Brexit remain in limbo, despite Ireland softening its tough stance on reciprocity.
Since the Brexit vote three years ago, over 2,700 solicitors from England and Wales have registered with the Law Society of Ireland, each paying a €300 administrative fee. A further 700 applications are being processed. But a letter circulated in Dublin in March, days before the UK was due to leave the EU, stated that solicitors may be issued with full practising certificates only if they have an ‘establishment’ in Ireland and have taken out separate indemnity insurance.
However, last week the Law Society of Ireland published revised guidance on its website for PC-holders outside the jurisdiction. This drops the condition for England and Wales (and indeed all) solicitors to have an ‘establishment’ in Ireland, but remains problematic. In particular, although the new guidance will clearly have implications for lawyers with Irish PCs operating outside the EU, these have yet to be clarified.
In December 2017, Law Society of Ireland director general Ken Murphy said ‘Brexit refugee’ solicitors were enrolling but not arriving, and not applying to the Irish roll in order to establish practices there. He added it was primarily EU competition and trade law practitioners who had registered in Ireland.
Since the Brexit vote, several City firms have opened offices in Ireland, including Pinsent Masons, Fieldfisher, Simmons & Simmons and Clyde & Co.
A spokesperson for the Law Society of England and Wales said it remains engaged in a ‘constructive dialogue’ with the Law Society of Ireland.