The Law Society joined a plea to the EU to make dispute resolution across Europe more accessible for small businesses by allowing the UK to sign up to the Lugano Convention when the Brexit transition period ends.  

The Lugano Convention 2007 is an international agreement on which country’s courts may hear civil or commercial cross-border disputes and which decisions can be enforced.

In a letter to Charles Michel, president of the European Council, a cross-sector group of organisations urged the EU to approve the UK’s application.

‘Even if time is now running short for getting the Lugano Convention into place for the start of January, there should be time to think about phasing in arrangements,’ the letter said.

Signatories included the law societies of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; City of London Corporation; British Retail Consortium; British Chamber of Commerce EU & Belgium; Which?; and the Chambers of Ireland.

David Greene, Law Society of England and Wales president, said individuals and small businesses are likely to suffer most if the EU blocks UK admission to the convention.

‘Losing the Lugano framework means reverting to the national laws of each country to decide which court has jurisdiction over a legal issue and whether a judgment will be recognised and enforced,’ he said. ‘The wealthiest corporations and individuals will still be able to enforce their rights, but without Lugano access to justice will be denied to those with smaller budgets.’