Catherine Dixon, chief executive of the Law Society of England and Wales, said yesterday, changes to key laws in the wake of Brexit could take years to accomplish and pledged the Law Society would work with the solicitor profession, their clients, the public and with government to support a calm transition in the wake of referendum.

However she also warned against the dangers of picking away at the finely balanced legal services sector when the sector, constitution and economy are going through a period of such unprecedented change.

‘The Law Society has a vital role convening legal expertise to help our country through this period of unprecedented change,’ she said.

‘I also want to strike a note of reassurance. While there may be change ahead, nothing fundamental is likely to happen in legislative terms until after Article 50 is triggered, which we are told will be in the autumn when a new prime minister has taken office.

‘Equally, for now, there will be no change to people’s legal rights or obligations.

‘We are keen to ensure that there is continued single market access and that the ability of solicitors to practice across the EU is protected. We are also urging that government retains our financial services passport, mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments and extradition arrangements, including the European Arrest Warrant, which safeguards UK citizens and helps to ensure that the interests of justice are served.

‘The legal sector makes a very significant contribution to the economy and we ask the government to think carefully before it embarks on changes to the regulation of the sector when the profession and its clients are dealing with the challenges triggered by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

‘If it is decided that a review of regulation is necessary, the approach must be thoughtful and holistic, not piecemeal.’

If a wider review is to be undertaken into the regulation of the legal services sector the focus must keep the interest of consumers and the public at front of mind, namely:
simpler, better and consistent regulation that applies to the whole legal services market
professional standards owned and driven by the profession
the review should consider whether having 11 legal sector regulators is cost effective and provides value for money for consumers
the term lawyer has no protection – anyone can use it which can cause confusion for consumers

Catherine Dixon added:

‘The Law Society is firmly focused on supporting law reform and the legislative process, and providing information and expert advice to the solicitor profession, policy makers and the public as the UK’s new relationship with the EU takes shape.

‘We will continue our work in the public interest, upholding the rule of law and enabling access to justice for all.’