15 March 2019

Ireland seeks a 'Brexit dividend'

As landmarks 'go green' for St Patrick's Day, Ireland 's legal community heads to DC in campaign mode with ambition to reap a Brexit dividend.

By Dr David Cowan

The White House fountain turns green in celebration Twitter/@whitehouse

The Law Society of Ireland is visiting the US to promote Ireland as an international legal centre among American lawyers and corporations, flagging its post-Brexit ambitions. When Brexit takes effect Ireland will be the only legal jurisdiction, other than Malta which also has civil law, that will be both a common law and member state of the European Union.

Leveraging advantages

Law Society of Ireland director general Ken Murphy said, ‘we believe the uncertainty surrounding the enforceability in the EU of judgements of the UK courts post-Brexit will make dispute resolution in Irish courts more attractive to international litigants.’ He added, ‘ultimately, the aim is to see increased numbers of international commercial agreements with Irish jurisdiction clauses included in them.’ The law society, along with the Bar of Ireland and with the active engagement of some of the largest law firms, last year published a joint paper, ‘Promoting Ireland as a leading centre globally for international legal services.’ The paper, adopted by Cabinet as Government policy in January 2019, aims to leverage these advantages and others for the benefit of Ireland, its economy and its legal profession by attracting international legal work to Ireland. Mr Murphy said, ‘Brexit, and the uncertainty surrounding it, poses unique and difficult challenges for Ireland and Irish business. However, we should seek to leverage our distinct advantages for the benefit of Ireland, Irish business and our legal profession.’

Law and economy

Mr Murphy and law society president Patrick Dorgan travelled to Washington DC where the Government’s ‘Ireland: An international legal centre’ initiative was launched at the Irish Embassy as part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Attorney General, Séamus Woulfe SC, is hosting the launch event today with the Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, chief justice addressing delegates. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar is also taking part in the celebrations and made the traditional visit to the White House. Mr Murphy said, ‘promoting Ireland as a leading centre globally for international dispute resolution and other legal services is a key initiative in the Government’s priority to minimise the impact on trade and the economy.’ The law society wants to see increased international legal work in a sector ‘which already generates €2.46 billion annually in turnover and contributes at least €1.6 billion GVA (gross value added) to the Irish economy,’ Mr Murphy concluded.

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