UK Trade with EU: Legal Profession

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 14th January 2021.

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Photo of Lord Smith of Finsbury Lord Smith of Finsbury Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to change the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement to clarify the definition of a 'lawyer' to include patent attorneys and trade mark attorneys to ensure that an attorney whose title is acquired in the UK is not disadvantaged in relation to an attorney whose title is acquired in the EU.

Photo of Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Lord Wolfson of Tredegar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Future Relationship Act received Royal Assent on 31 December 2020 and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is now enshrined into UK law. There are no plans to amend this agreement with respect to the definition of a ‘lawyer’.

The legal services practice rights captured in the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement are a novel provision covering policy areas where the EU was reluctant to take on new commitments. The government’s policy intention in respect of these provisions was to secure commitment to home title practice rights in home and international law for those within the scope of the EU’s lawyer-related directives. This scope does not include patent or trade mark attorneys.

Recognising the sector’s concerns in this area, the government has amended the Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) address for service rules to remove reference to the EEA. This means that, since 1 January 2021, only a UK, Gibraltar, Isle of Man or Channel Island address for service is accepted for new applications and requests to start contentious proceedings before the IPO.

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