The Law Society has today warned of the risks of a hard Brexit, urging the government not to ’commit an act of self-harm and unravel our economy’.

President Robert Bourns called on negotiators to work with businesses, including the legal sector, to ensure benefits achieved through EU membership are retained. These include ’vital’ areas of cooperation around security, including the European Arrest Warrant.

’The election did not result in an endorsement of a hard Brexit,’ he said.  ’Brexit will be judged in the context of the deal that’s achieved for UK PLC and the people of Britain. 

’In legal services alone - which are worth in excess of £25.7 billion to the UK economy annually - there are 380,000 people employed and a 1% growth in our sector creates 8,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy. We must not rip that up.’

Key issues for lawyers include recognition and enforcement of judgments; maintaining legal certainty throughout the Brexit process; and cross-border practice rights.

Chancery Lane stressed that EU-wide arrangements have supported the growth of networks established by English and Welsh firms across the EU, and firms from other EU jurisdictions to open and practice in and through London. This has helped create the biggest and most diverse legal communities in Europe - 200 foreign firms from more than 40 jurisdictions, the Society stressed.

Bourns added: “The abolition of barriers, with the ability to settle disputes easily, has benefited businesses, individuals and firms.

’We also need to make sure both individuals and businesses must have a mechanism to have their rights enforced and disputes adjudicated.

’The law of England and Wales underpins a vast number of global transactions. Its relative certainty, an expert judiciary and professional environment renowned the world over for its competence and independence - both of judges and practitioners - all add to the appeal of our law and this jurisdiction.’