The government should invest in cutting the cost and increasing the speed of litigation in the UK to safeguard the country's 10% share in the global legal services market, an influential City body recommends today. 

In its report UK Legal Services 2016 TheCityUK also recommends that the government collaborate with the judiciary to better understand users of the Commercial Court to ensure that future investment 'reflects their needs and responds to the challenges set by competitor jurisdictions'.

The report emphasises the importance of legal services to the UK economy, with a trade surplus amounting to £3.6bn in 2014 – 11% up on the previous year.

Solicitor firms' share of this market was 23% up, with gross overseas billings estimated at £4.3bn in 2014. 

The UK accounts for around 10% of the global market for legal services by fee revenue, and is by far the largest market in Europe. 

Chris Cummings, chief executive of TheCityUK said: ‘There will be challenges ahead, but the UK remains the leading global centre for the provision of international legal services and dispute resolution. The fundamental strengths of the sector, including the choice of English law, are key contributors to what makes us globally competitive.’

Meanwhile the Law Society said today that England and Wales’ position as the most attractive jurisdiction when it comes to international commercial contracts has not changed because of the decision to leave the EU.

The Society’s president, Robert Bourns, said: ‘We have the best law firms in the world. Their expertise and experience has been built up over many years and they set the global standard. English courts also have a world reputation for independence and expertise.

‘Our judges are held in high esteem internationally for their commercial nous and for the reliability of their decisions.’

The Society stressed that English contract law is largely unaffected by EU law because it derives largely from common law.

‘The bottom line is that English and Welsh solicitors, our law firms, and our judges can be relied on and are the best. English contract law is used across the world because it offers certainty, stability and predictability,’ Bourns said. ‘None of this changes because of Brexit.’