The Law Society of England and Wales has been blindsided by the announcement from its Irish counterpart that England and Wales-qualified solicitors will not be entitled to Irish practising certificates unless they have a presence in Ireland.

A news came within the Law Society of Ireland’s published results of an in-depth review into practising certificates and solicitors outside the Irish jurisdiction.

With less than seven weeks until the end of the Brexit transition period, the news means that solicitors in England and Wales will no longer be able to practice in the Republic of Ireland from 1 January 2021, unless they have a physical presence there.

In November 2019, the Law Society of Ireland revealed that at least 1,817 new England and Wales solicitors – an all-time record number - were admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland.

Linklaters and Allen & Overy had by far the most solicitors on the Irish roll compared to other UK firms. 

The Society also said Irish qualified solicitors based in England and Wales will not be entitled to an Irish practising certificate, whether or not they attempt to maintain certain practice rights in the EU post-Brexit.

However, other EU-qualified lawyers based in England and Wales will, it seems, still be able to continue practising in their home state law including EU law.

The Law Society of England and Wales expressed its disappointment with the news, and dismay at how it came to know about it. 

Society president David Greene responded: “To hear about this development through a release on the Law Society of Ireland's website is very disappointing. 

“We would have expected to learn of any proposed changes in advance and formally.”

He said the Society will consider the changes in depth and work with its members to address this issue and seek to resolve the issues.

He added: “The Law Society of Ireland has for years issued practising certificates to the many Irish solicitors based in England and Wales, whether their first qualification is the Republic of Ireland or whether they are UK lawyers who have requalified in Ireland”, he added.

“We also reiterate our commitment to keeping England and Wales as an open jurisdiction to all foreign lawyers, linked with a strong regulatory framework, and to enabling international practice for our members wherever they are based in the world”, said Greene.