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17 November 2020

Ireland seeks to woo US businesses as EU legal base post-Brexit

Government-backed initiative follows decision to block bid by English and Welsh lawyers to preserve EU access

By Ben Edwards

The Four Courts building in Dublin Shutterstock

Ireland is encouraging US businesses with interests in the European Union to use the country as a legal base after Brexit given that it will be the only English-speaking common-law jurisdiction  left in the trading bloc.

The call comes after the Law Society of Ireland last week blocked a bid by English and Welsh lawyers to preserve EU access once the Brexit transition period expires at the end of this year.

The New York State Bar Association and the Irish government’s ‘Ireland for Law’ initiative are co-hosting a webinar this Thursday to outline why US businesses should consider using Irish legal services and courts for matters such as corporate restructuring and insolvency, IP and data protection, and using Irish law for European derivatives contracts.

Patrick Leonard SC, who represents Ireland for Law, said: “We want our legal colleagues in the US to consider us their gateway to Europe. Many already do, but with the UK final exit from the European Union’s legal system in just over a month’s time, we are conscious that this will leave many looking for a new base.” 

He added: “Ireland and the US share a long and deep history and Brexit presents an opportunity for us to deepen that connection through our legal and business communities.”

Speakers at the event will include Ireland’s former Taoiseach John Bruton, Irish chief justice Frank Clarke and former Bar of Ireland chair Paul McGarry. 

Edward Lenci, a partner at US law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson and chair-elect of the New York Bar Association International Section, said: “US corporations doing business in the EU need to understand better the impact of Brexit on their legal resource and venue options.”

The Law Society of England and Wales last week expressed ‘huge disappointment’ at Ireland’s decision to prevent thousands of its lawyers from practising Irish, and by extension, EU law.

More than 4,000 England and Wales-qualified lawyers had been accepted on the Irish Roll of Solicitors since the Brexit vote in 2016, but the Law Society of Ireland announced that solicitors on its roll will need to physically practise in Ireland if they want to advise clients in the country on EU law.

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