UK solicitors based in Paris can continue advising on English and international law in the wake of Brexit, the French authorities have confirmed.
After several months of negotiation, the National Council of French Bar Associations (Conseil National des Barreaux) and the French government have concluded that the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement – ratified by members of the European Parliament last week – enables UK lawyers to register as ‘foreign legal consultants’.
Lawyers registered as foreign legal consultants in France may practise under home title and advise clients on home-country law and public international law, excluding EU law.
In order to register, solicitors must apply for authorisation with the CNB. Those applying for permanent practice must then register with a local French bar association, while applications for temporary practice must be renewed with the council each year.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘This is great news for our solicitor members based in France. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement was instrumental in securing this outcome, as third country lawyers are only eligible for foreign legal consultant status in France if there is a trade deal covering legal services between their country of origin and the EU.’
Last year France also confirmed that UK firms with branches in Paris could continue operating as before the end of the Brexit transition period.
Before Brexit, UK lawyers had virtually unrestricted market access to any jurisdiction in the EU, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland. They are now subject to 27 different regulatory regimes in the EU, plus one each for the other countries in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
Uncertainty remains around solicitors’ ability to advise clients on EU law, which is not protected under the trade and cooperation deal, resting instead on the domestic regulation in each EU member state. There are also concerns around EU legal professional privilege and solicitors’ ability to travel to EU countries on business.