England: European requalification rules relaxed to attract English lawyers after Brexit

Regulators in France and Belgium are allowing English lawyers to requalify even if they do not speak the local languages in an attempt to bring commercial legal work to their jurisdictions after Brexit.

Officials at the Law Society told The Brief that bar heads in France and Belgium are encouraging English lawyers to seek requalification ahead of moves to establish commercial courts in Paris and Frankfurt, which have received strong support from the French and German governments.

EU regulations allow for lawyers to apply for requalification in another jurisdiction after three years of practise there.

Helena Raulus, from the Law Society, said Belgium and France were keen to attract English commercial lawyers, saying that the language rules were applied only “at a very minimum level”.

“English lawyers need to show only that they can get through the process — in other words the admission ceremony — in French,” she said.

Currently Ireland, with its common law legal system and shared language, is the most popular jurisdiction for cross-border experts in City law firms or at the commercial bar.