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04 March 2021

Ashurst opens Dublin office to maintain its EU competition law practice

New Irish rules prevent dual-qualified lawyers practising in Ireland without a physical presence in the country

By Ben Edwards

Grattan Bridge in Dublin, Ireland on the evening .This historic bridge spans the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland.

SAKhanPhotography: Shutterstock

Ashurst has become the latest UK law firm to open a Dublin office in response to Brexit and restrictions on practising EU law in the 27-nation bloc.

While Ashurst already has seven offices across mainland Europe, the new Dublin office will allow the firm to more easily maintain its EU competition law practice that was previously based in London. Partners Euan Burrows, Nigel Parr, Duncan Liddell, Neil Cuninghame and Steven Vaz will now split their time between London and the Irish capital.

In a statement, Ashurst said: “Ireland is an attractive destination for business and we are delighted to be opening an office in Dublin. The office will be initially used to support our EU competition law practice and we will consider additional services in the future in line with the firm’s growth strategy.”

Ashurst’s move followed a similar decision by Burges Salmon in December. It opened in Dublin to maintain its EU intellectual property practice. A number of other UK firms have also opened in Dublin in recent years, including Kennedys, DAC Beachcroft, DLA Piper, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons and Fieldfisher.

Late last year the Law Society of Ireland introduced new rules to restrict dual-qualified lawyers in England and Wales from practising Irish, and by extension, EU law without a physical presence in the country or proof that they intended to move there. More than 4,000 England and Wales-qualified lawyers had gained admission to the Irish Roll of Solicitors in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote in expectation that it would allow them to continue advising clients on EU law without having to set up an Irish subsidiary. 

Firms are not only moving to Dublin in response to the UK’s exit from the EU. Wall Street firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is planning to open in Brussels this year as it adjusts to the post-Brexit trading environment. The firm hired dual-qualified competition lawyer Antonio Bavasso to help lead the new office when it opens in the summer. Simpson Thacher’s executive committee chairman Bill Dougherty told the Financial Times in January that the end of the Brexit transition period had disrupted its ability to provide antitrust and competition-related advice in the EU.

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