Justice secretary Chris Grayling has sent a message to the world that the UK is cheaper, quicker and more reliable for litigation disputes.
Grayling gave a keynote speech at the UK headquarters of Allen & Overy yesterday to stress his commitment to exporting legal services abroad.
He noted the importance of breaking into new jurisdictions and said the Indian legal market alone could be worth £350m to the UK.
There was also a clear message to colleagues at the Home Office that there should be no restraint on foreign students allowed to come into the UK to study law.
Grayling said: ‘People all over the world know that for dispute resolution you come to London. It is 15% less than the rest of Europe, cases concluded in months not years and the judgments of British courts come with cast-iron guarantees of integrity and reliability.’
On foreign students, he added: ‘Young lawyers from overseas are coming here to learn their craft. We have around 20,000 international law students – one-fifth of all law students [in the world]. These guys are the future of their country’s system and educating them in UK law gets our system hard-wired into them.’
Grayling stated the government had a plan to increase awareness and is working with UK Trade & Investment on a marketing strategy that will go live in September.
Senior officials from all government departments will meet twice before the end of the year with legal service sector stakeholders for the promotion of UK legal services.
The Ministry of Justice will also publish and widely distribute a practical guide to law in the UK and dispute resolution for overseas lawyers and business.
Grayling was joined on stage by Lord Wallace of Tankerness, advocate general for Scotland, and representatives of UKTI, the Law Society and Bar Council.
Bar chair Maura McGowan echoed Grayling’s championship of UK legal services but warned that he had a role to play in maintaining the current standards.
She said: ‘I know from my experience representing the bar internationally, that much of the world looks to our system for indications of their own future. We must guard jealously the privileged position which English law and our legal services sector assumes on the world stage.’