An unprecedented 186 lawyers in the UK have been admitted to practise in Ireland in the first six months of 2016, while, in the whole of last year, 101 applied to take cases in the Irish Republic. In 2014, the number was 51.
Ken Early, director general of the Law Society of Ireland, said the overwhelming majority of applicants had cited the possibility of the UK leaving Europe in Thursday’s vote as a reason for practising in the Republic.
Early pointed out that if the UK exits the EU, British solicitors will not have the right to argue cases for clients all the way to the European courts.
He said: “This is by far the largest number of transfers of solicitors to Ireland from the UK in any given year, and we’re only halfway through the year.
“Of the EU member states, Ireland is the legal jurisdiction most equivalent to the UK. We are both English-speaking, both common law jurisdictions and our legal institutions are much the same. This makes Ireland the destination of choice for solicitors in England, in particular, who are concerned about the possibility of the UK voting to leave the EU.
“The right to argue before EU tribunals such as the court of justice of the European Union is only afforded to lawyers qualified in an EU state.”
Under rules made following an EU directive in 1989, solicitors who have qualified in England, Wales or Northern Ireland are permitted to undergo a simple process that allows them to practise in Ireland. And Early stressed that once they are qualified solicitors in the Irish Republic the lawyers can still operate from their bases in Britain.
“It is our understanding that the majority of the solicitors who are completing this process will continue to practise in London or Brussels and do not intend to set up a physical practice in Ireland.”
Early added that there are several dozen more British solicitors currently engaged in the Irish legal application process, including at least one from a London-based top 10 legal firm.
This article was written by Henry McDonald Ireland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Monday 20th June 2016 00.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010