The free trade agreement (FTA) reached between the UK and Australia reflects the importance for both economies of market access for legal services, the Law Society said today. The deal ’provides certainty and creates opportunities for our legal professions to work together towards smoother trade in legal services, which will make doing business easier for clients’, Society president I. Stephanie Boyce commented.

’We believe that legal and other professional services should be at the forefront of the UK’s forthcoming trade discussions,’ she added.  

The FTA is the first ‘from scratch’ trade agreement to be finalised since the UK left the EU. It eliminates most tariffs on UK goods and creates ’guaranteed certainty of access’ to markets, the government said. UK service suppliers including lawyers and will have access to visas to work in Australia without being subject to Australia’s skilled occupation list.  

The Society said the FTA covers its ‘key asks’ for legal services in trade agreements: greater recognition of qualifications, availability of a larger range of business structures – namely the LLP – and eased mobility options. It confirms the existing right for UK and Australian lawyers to advise clients and to provide arbitration, mediation and conciliation services in the other country’s territory, using their original (home) qualifications and title.

Boyce added: ’Enshrining the right to advise on home-country laws and public and private international law where they’re entitled to practise in their home jurisdiction in the FTA is an important achievement as it recognises the specificities of home title practice in international legal practice, without the need for mutual recognition procedures and/or requalification in the host country.’