The professional services sector has broadly welcomed the trade deal signed with Japan today. The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is the first agreement that the UK has secured that goes beyond an existing EU deal, with enhancements in areas such as digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries, the Department for International Trade said. 

Law Society president David Greene said: 'We welcome the news that the UK and Japan have signed a trade deal, which the UK government expects will increase trade with Japan by an estimated £15 billion.'

Miles Celic, chief executive of lobby group TheCityUK, described the agreement as 'a milestone'. Building on an already deep relationship in financial and related professional services, the agreement 'sets out a strong framework for collaboration in financial services regulation, covers new areas such as forward-looking provisions for digital trade and the prohibition of data localisation, and will bring tangible benefits for customers in the UK and Japan.' 

The UK exported professional and management consulting services worth £429m to Japan in 2018. The Law Society said the trade deal retains a number of provisions from the existing EU-Japan agreement that affect legal practice, such as establishment, registration, ability to provide advice in home country and international law.

However, the CEPA goes beyond the previous agreement in digital and data provisions, including enabling free flow of data, a commitment to uphold the principles of net neutrality and a ban on unjustified data localisation.

Greene added: 'The Law Society has been actively informing our colleagues in Japan and the UK government on ways to improve trade in legal services between our two economies. An open legal services market facilitates cross-border trade, makes doing international business easier, and contributes to economic growth.

'Our keys asks include greater transparency and provisions to ease the registration processes for foreign lawyers, as well as locking in the changes to the [Japanese] Foreign Lawyers Act. This is a great opportunity to continue the discussion with our counterparts in Japan, as well as the UK Ministry of Justice and their counterparts.'