Ireland jockeys for EU position post-Brexit

By Dr David Cowan

09 April 2019 at 10:23 BST

Irish and European legal systems post-Brexit highlighted at the EU Bar Association conference held in Dublin, as Ireland positions itself.


Senior legal figures from around Europe gathered in Dublin to address the EU Bar Association’s Conference. Top of the agenda was the impact of Brexit on the legal sector in Ireland and across the EU, with a particular focus on commercial dispute resolution and the protection of the common law in the post-Brexit European Union.

Unpredictable outcome

In his address, advocate general Gerard Hogan outlined the importance of the protection of the common law in the post-Brexit European Union, the need for continued dialogue between the Irish courts system and the Court of Justice of the European Union through the preliminary reference procedure and the extent to which the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice has already influenced the common law as applied in Ireland. He noted, “While we are all intellectually prepared for Brexit – if and in whatever form it may occur – the impact for the Irish legal system over the long term is likely to be considerable, if yet unpredictable. The UK was one of the key players in shaping EU law and, as might be expected, led the way in accommodating the common law to the requirements of EU law and, conversely, helped the civilian Member States to understand the separate thinking of the common law method. All that will change after Brexit.” Speaking ahead of the conference Micheal P O’Higgins SC, chairman, Council of The Bar of Ireland said “In January 2019, the government adopted the Legal Services Brexit Initiative led by the Council of The Bar of Ireland in conjunction with the Law Society of Ireland, to support and promote the Irish legal system in the context of Brexit, with a particular focus on commercial law. The initiative seeks to position Ireland to fully capitalise on the opportunities that may arise from the UK exiting the European Union, effectively making Ireland the only English-speaking common-law jurisdiction fully integrated into the European legal order. The Bar of Ireland is delighted to support this EU Bar Association conference and the opportunity it provides to discuss with our colleagues in the wider legal community the many significant issues that arise for the legal sector post Brexit”.

Unique comparison

The chairman of EU Bar Association Paul McGarry SC said “The Council of The Bar of Ireland is committed to supporting the government and the sector in responding to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as the impact of Brexit plays out on interactions between sector participants in Ireland, the UK and across the European Union.” Mr McGarry added the conference was unique in being “the first comparative presentation of the various Justice system initiatives underway in Europe in preparedness for Brexit”. International speakers included Ulrike Willoughby, Presiding Judge, Chamber for International Commercial Disputes in Frankfurt; Jacques Bouyssou, and Emilie Vasseur, Paris Place du Droit; and, Duco Oranje, president of the Netherlands Commercial Court of Appeal. Other Irish contributors included the Attorney General Seamus Woulfe SC and the Hon. Ms. Justice Caroline Costello.


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