With the deadline for reaching a Brexit agreement looming ever closer, many are now fearful of a no-deal result - the Law Society of England and Wales being one such forecaster. Gethin Bennett shares his thoughts.

Earlier this week, the Law Society warned of the consequences of such a result – a potential invoice of £3 billion to the UK legal services sector by 2025. Its economic analysis of a hard Brexit aftermath also projected that it could cut the growth rate of the country’s legal market by half.

According to the Society’s president, Christina Blacklaws, “Brexit is likely to have a significant negative effect on the legal sector in the medium and long term” – especially if both sides cannot agree a softer model such as a Canada-style free trade agreement. The Society also predicts that a failure to reach a deal (and the likely resulting switch to the default World Trade Organisation rules) could result in 8,000 to 10,000 fewer jobs in the legal services sector by 2025 when compared to a soft Brexit alternative.

The anxieties of a no-deal scenario have hardly been alleviated by the Government publishing its guidance this week on how to prepare for the outcome. As part of its guidance, the Government has published 25 “technical notices” across various industries, setting out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in such an eventuality.

Despite ministers being hopeful of a deal being reached, their guidance does warn that the alternative may lead to, among other things:

  • an increase in the cost of card payments between the UK and EU 
  • new customs checks and an increase in paperwork
  • the loss of banking and pension services
  • pharmaceuticals needing to stockpile their supplies, and
  • loss of VAT relief for low-value parcels from the EU.

As with everything Brexit-related, it’s now a waiting game to see whether the Law Society’s predictions come true and whether the Government’s guidance will need to be relied upon.

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