Hard Brexit threatens to leave Spanish lawyers in London without a license | Legal

There is little more than a month left for the United Kingdom to withdraw from all European institutions, after the end of the transition period. Brexit will begin to be a reality from December 31, 2020 and, at this point, it is not clear if London and Brussels will finally arrive in time to seal a trade agreement that will alleviate the effects of divorce in the different economic sectors, including legal. The outcome of the negotiations will be decisive in defining the situation in which the Spanish lawyers operating in British territory will remain.

Currently, three European directives allow any lawyer qualified in an EU Member State to practice and establish his business permanently on the other side of the English Channel. The interested party only needs to register in the Law Society (the British regulator of legal activities) to obtain a European legal license with which you can advise on all kinds of matters and litigate before the courts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, except before the Supreme Court. However, as of January, this regulation will automatically cease to apply.

Different scenarios

According to international lawyer Miriam González, there is still room for the parties to articulate some type of transitional regime, “although it is clear that things will not be as they have been before and all lawyers operating in the United Kingdom will have to adapt to a legal framework that will gradually distance itself from the European ”.

León Fernando del Canto, a barrister in London for 20 years, doubts that the Brexit negotiations will go ahead and much more that they include a moratorium on the current professional freedom. From his point of view, it is most likely that, with the entry of the new year, Spanish lawyers will be at the same level as those from other third countries. “Although no one is going to kick them out, they must be enabled under one of the formulas provided by British law if they want to continue working,” he remarks.

In a worst-case scenario, stakeholders would have to start from scratch and basically have three options. The first would be to register as a foreign lawyer (Registered Foreign Lawyer), a category that limits the exercise exclusively to advice on the law of the country of origin.

They could also take a year-long bridging course, in which the basic subjects of English law are studied, and pass an exam to be a trial lawyer (barrister) or not litigant (solicitor). Finally, it would be possible to work in a firm under the supervision of another licensed attorney (paralegal).

Limited impact

González estimates that the impact that a non-consensual break would have would be rather limited among Spanish lawyers residing in Great Britain, taking into account that “the vast majority work in large law firms in the City Londoner and are not really practicing in court, but rather offering business services. In other words, “there are very few who would be forced to enroll as solicitors o barristers”.

A point of view shared by Del Canto, who confirms that there are just over 50 Spaniards who are currently engaged in English law in London and almost all of them have already taken measures to continue operating after Brexit. However, he warns that the British regulator “is very strict” and will carry out controls to verify that “no foreign worker exceeds his functions.” In this sense, he explains, it will no longer be possible to share files with other colleagues from the EU or work for offices with headquarters in a country of the EU bloc. In addition, it will be mandatory to take out a civil liability insurance to cover any compensation for malpractice.

One-off assistance

The experts consulted also coincide in pointing out that, regardless of whether or not there is a commercial agreement in extremis, bureaucratic requirements will be increased for those lawyers who travel to the United Kingdom on time. Specifically, they must apply for a special visa, inform the authorities of the reason for their visit, and go through customs in order to pay the corresponding taxes. “Of course, it will not be so easy to do business here,” Del Canto says.

10,000 jobs at stake

  • Impact. The United Kingdom Bar Association (Law Society) estimates, in a recent report, that a no-deal Brexit would reduce the income of the British legal sector by 3.5 billion pounds (10% compared to 2019) and would put 10,000 jobs at risk direct.
  • Business volume. The UK is the largest exporter of legal services in Europe. According to the Office for National Statistics, the sector contributed 27.9 billion pounds to the British economy last year, equivalent to 1.4% of gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Vulnerability. The Law Society study points out that law firms specializing in technology and intellectual property matters are especially vulnerable to a no-deal Brexit, as British trademarks would no longer be recognized as such in the EU after divorce.
  • The slam of Ireland. Thousands of British lawyers have registered in Ireland to protect their exercise rights in the EU. Specifically, according to the Law Society Gazette, lawyers from England and Wales already represent about 14% of the total number of registered in the Irish bar association. However, the institution clarified at the end of October that it will only grant a license to those professionals who have their headquarters in the republic.


Lessons from Covid: Contracts are highly overvalued | Legal

There are unavoidable but predictable events. When things do not go as expected and problems arise, in general it is better to have provided mechanisms that can resolve the situation, or at least limit the risks. Regulating this type of situation and foreseeing who has to bear what at their expense is the main function of contracts.

In this regard, it should be borne in mind that contracts are often highly overvalued. That someone signs and commits to something does not guarantee that they can or want to comply with everything agreed. Contracts are basically a personal commitment. There are mechanisms that can improve the creditor’s expectations of seeing the agreed benefit satisfied, but guarantees that allow “automatic execution” can rarely be included. If there is a situation that involves a serious imbalance in the benefits of the parties, that relationship inevitably leads to conflict and non-compliance.

At this point, beyond the assessment of the crisis situation derived from Covid-19, its economic and social implications, in terms of contracts and compliance with obligations, in addition to trying to resolve specific situations, it is also necessary to do a critical exercise in trying to learn from the situation.

I’m not so sure that a pandemic was a totally unpredictable and unavoidable situation. In fact, the emergency plans of the WHO and most of the States contemplate this situation. There have always been wars, crises, and natural catastrophes. Pandemics have plagued humanity for centuries and, although at another level, we have suffered recently: the Hong Kong flu of 1968, the bird flu of 2004, the influenza A of 2009, the Ebola in Africa in 2014, the outbreak of Zika in America in 2015 and the 2019-2020 dengue epidemic.

It is possible that it was difficult to anticipate the specific circumstances of Covid-19, but it does not seem so unpredictable that adverse events or circumstances could occur that could lead to a sudden and serious drop in demand for all types of goods or services. The inclusion of conventional clauses matters standing they were at one time common in French law, until the courts came to consider them implicit in all subsequent bilateral agreements. And in the Anglo-Saxon contractual sphere, MAC clauses are a common practice.

In any case, trying to anticipate the facts, in the sense of anticipating the circumstances that in any way could affect a legal relationship and the underlying business, is an essential part of the lawyer’s job.

Thus, the lack of foresight has no excuse or justification.

To the extent that a contract is basically a tool for the distribution of risks between the parties in a business, in the process of evaluating opportunities and negotiating the agreement, it is always essential to carry out a risk analysis, and treat to include corrective mechanisms that maintain a reasonable balance between the respective benefits or how to resolve the situation.

There will be few situations in which clauses or conditions cannot be found that can redirect the situation and reduce damage. It is true that their inclusion complicates the negotiations, and requires an additional effort of transparency. Sometimes they can prevent a deal that seems interesting. In any case, the role of the lawyer is to inform his client of the risks involved in changing circumstances in long-term contracts, and to propose alternatives or solutions. The decision to take risks so as not to lose what seems like a good opportunity, or to discard a good opportunity to avoid risks, is the decision and responsibility of the parties to an agreement.

Fernando Mier, associate director of Iuristax.


ITP Aero and the unions agree to reduce the outputs of its factory in Zamudio to 163 | Companies

The company in the aeronautical sector ITP Aero, filial de Rolls-Royce, and the unions Comisiones Obreras and UGT have reached a preliminary agreement for the labor adjustment that includes the departure of 121 employees from the Biscayan factory of Zamudio with eventual contract, plus 42 early retirements, union sources reported this Saturday.

These early retirement They will be mandatory for those over 58 years of age, with a supplement of 85% for salaries below 50,000 euros gross, and 75% for those who exceed that figure.

In total, 163 employees will leave the Biscayan factory, the main of the group, compared to the initial plans of the management to do without 194.

The third agreed measure is that a temporary employment regulation file (ERTE) will be applied that will affect the entire workforce for 14 months, until December 31, 2021, with a maximum of 45 days of unemployment for each employee. This ERTE will be applied from November 2, provided that the staff ratifies the preliminary agreement in a vote that will take place next Tuesday, reports Efe.

The ELA union, which has a majority in the Zamudio plant committee, has rejected this preliminary agreement because it considers that the company has achieved “more than it wanted at the beginning of the negotiation: it has managed to lighten the workforce and have obtained a hidden time pocket with ERTE, which will make staff hours more flexible “.

For this union, after announcing the largest shareholder, Rolls Royce, its intention to sell ITP SAU, the company seeks to reduce the workforce and reduce labor costs to facilitate its sale.

Madrid, more departures

ITP Aero has pending the departure of another 125 operators at its Ajalvir and Alcobendas plants in Madrid. The company had announced a 15% reorganization for its 4,000-strong workforce in various countries.


London and Brussels must find a way out that helps the recovery | Opinion

The EU heads of government yesterday supported the extension of the round of talks that Brussels has with London in order to regulate trade relations between both parties before the end of the year, the date on which Brexit enters fully into force. Despite the Council’s pleasure and the determined European will to do everything possible to close a friendly exit of the United Kingdom from the EU, it seems increasingly difficult to achieve that goal. The Council itself yesterday urged the Commission to design possible unilateral contingency measures of a limited duration if Brexit finally ends without an agreement, and there are already several voices that consider the negative outcome of the negotiations as probable. Both the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Italian President, Giuseppe Conte, have warned that the pact with London cannot be reached at any price, while French President Emmanuel Macron openly acknowledged the possibility that the divorce could take place at the bravas.

The EU guidelines for the negotiation have correct and clearly marked red lines: those established in the withdrawal agreement and in the protocols signed by London and Brussels, which remain fully in force and must be respected. The unusual decision of the British Government to promote a law that breaks with some points of the agreement, mainly those related to commercial activity on the border with Northern Ireland, has become a bone of contention with enough potential to burst the long negotiating path traveled so far in London and Brussels.

Europe must stand firm in defending an agreement that has been widely discussed and negotiated with the United Kingdom and that contains the roadmap on which the commercial relationship between the EU and the British must be built. However, and without departing from that framework, which is fully legitimate, Brussels must also do everything possible to avoid a rupture that could seriously damage the European economy, mired in a crisis of historic dimensions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Both the EU and the United Kingdom are enduring the scourge of an unprecedented recession not only because of its intensity, but also because of the extraordinary uncertainty it has sown in all European economies. Faced with a scenario like this, it is necessary more never to call for responsibility and cooperation to design trade rules of the game that will help the recovery of the whole of Europe instead of hindering it.