On Monday, the Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox signed a continuity Free Trade Agreement with Korea that will allow English and Welsh solicitors to continue to practise in Korea. This is welcome relief for the profession and more specifically for the four U.K. firms established there under an EU licence to be able to remain in Seoul post-Brexit.
Prior to this agreement being struck, UK head-quartered law firms, would need to stop operating in Korea as soon as the UK leaves the EU. Access to the Korean legal services market for UK firms is currently assured under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which the UK will no longer be party to when we leave the European Union.
Since the EU referendum, the Law Society has been working with UK government and the Korean Ministry of Justice as well as Korean legal representative bodies, to ensure a smooth transition for firms and clients so that economic interests are safeguarded. During many discussions the Korean Ministry of Justice repeatedly told the Law Society that UK firms were highly regarded in Korea and that legal services will be a key component of any future trade deal. News of a UK-KOREA continuity FTA agreement has therefore certainly helped reduce one of the Brexit-induced issues for Law Society members.
The Law Society will continue to monitor the situation and engage with relevant stakeholders. Law Society Vice President, Simon Davis will be in Seoul in September for the International Bar Association annual conference and will be holding a Member Roundtable with the British Ambassador to Seoul on 27 September 2019. We will also be organising a seminar with the Korean Bar Association on the benefits of using English law in international transactions.
Please contact Donna.Evans@lawsociety.org.uk for further information.