The UK-EU Relations
The Law Society is very active in the discussion about the future of the UK-EU relations, especially after Prime Minister announced negotiations with the EU about revision of the membership terms. While avoiding taking sides in the political arena, the Law Society emphasises that eventual changes of the existing membership terms may also bring major changes for the UK’s legal sector. To prove justification for its concerns, the Law Society points out that:
Legal sector generates nearly 2 percent of the UK’s GVA. In 2011, the legal sector generated approximately £27.5 billion and provided a job to about 350,000 citizens.
The UK’s legal sector is dominant in the EU. Accounting for over 25 percent of the total EU’s legal market, the UK’s legal sector is the largest one in Europe. At the same time, more than three quarters of the largest UK-based law firms also have their offices in other member countries of the EU.
The value of the EU’s legal market is estimated to be more than £100 billion. In addition, it is expected to grow at about 5 percent rate each year, which means that the value of the EU’s legal market will increase for another £20 billion by year 2015.
The value of the exported professional services is over £20 billion. Approximately 40 percent of professional services are exported to other EU countries and 25 percent to the United States. And these figures may grow dramatically if the EU and the United States adopt the announced free trade agreement.
The UK’s capital is the centre of the EU legal services market. This also confirms the presence of all largest US law firms in London.
According to the Law Society, the figures above clearly reveal the importance of the future UK-EU relationship not only for the country’s legal sector but for the British economy as a whole. They also forwarded the concerns of legal practitioners about the impact of an eventual withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
Legal Practitioners Concerned About the Future Development of the UK-EU Relations
A recent survey reveals that more than one half of legal practitioners believe that an eventual UK’s withdrawal from the EU would have negative consequences for the legal sector, with more than one third expressing serious concerns, adding it would be a disaster. According to the survey, more than three quarters of the respondents believe that the EU will continue to be one of the UK’s main trading partners.