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UK Lawyers to get Affiliate European Membership

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Following the nations formal exit from the EU, a recent move by the Council of European Bars and Law Societies (CCBE) has been widely welcomed by UK-based law firms, barristers and lawyers.

With the end of the Brexit transition period now passed, there were widespread concerns amongst the UK’s delegation to the CCBE that they would be demoted to 'associate' or 'observer' status, which would have severely affected its ability to take part. However, in a move welcomed by the Law Society and Bar Council, the CCBE has confirmed that it has created a new a category of 'affiliate' membership specifically for the UK.
Originally founded in 1960, the CCBE represents over 1 million lawyers in the law societies and bars of 45 countries from the EU, the European Economic Area, and wider Europe. A CCBE spokeswoman said the 'affiliate' membership status will allow the UK to remain active within the organisation, but with certain restrictions, in particular on matters relating to EU policies. It is understood that there was some opposition to the change.

Maintaining membership of the CCBE is vital to UK lawyers as they seek to facilitate the mutual recognition of UK legal qualifications in the EU. In commenting on the new membership category, a Law Society spokesperson said:

Maintaining an active and meaningful membership of the CCBE (beyond observer membership) was a key objective for us, both in relation to keeping a voice and bringing the UK experience on important issues such as human rights, the rule of law and professional practice matters as well as for our relations with all European bars and law societies…it is also important for our members that we continue our engagement with our counterparts in Europe on a wide range of legal issues.'

Chair of the Bar Council’s Brexit working group Hugh Mercer QC hoped that close ties, working relationships and unity would be maintained between the UK and the CCBE, adding:

In conjunction with the government’s trade deal, the CCBE membership provides a basis for working together and means we are still very much in Europe.”

 

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