May delivers official Brexit notice as legal profession anticipates implications

March 29, 2017 Theresa May has delivered formal notice of Britain’s intention to leave the EU, kicking off a two-year period in which negotiations will take place before Britain officially exits the EU in 2019. The notice was delivered to European Council president Donald Tusk, following an EU referendum that occurred in June 2016.

The move represents the most significant change to the UK’s economic and constitutional landscape in the past four decades. According to a Thomson Reuters report, the UK has seen more than 50,000 EU laws enacted throughout the past 25 years.

City partners continue to weigh the implications of Brexit, as London has long been seen as a dispute resolution hub. If Brexit brings about difficulties in recognizing qualifications or operating practices across borders, major law firms may need to reconsider using London as a major European base. The city currently houses more than 200 foreign owned firms. Dorothy Livingston, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Brexit team co-leader, said the legal profession would prefer that the UK and EU retain some form of mutual recognition of qualifications.

Other concerns include harmonization of criminal enforcement across borders, which Reed Smith partner Claude Brown believes should be one of the most important considerations during Brexit negotiations.

Despite the legal profession’s concerns about Brexit, City leaders such as HSF’s Livingston contend that the UK will continue to function as a major dispute resolution center.

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