EU lawyers in the UK from 1 January 2021
Published 30 January 2020
The UK has left the EU
This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It’ll be updated if anything changes.
You can read about the transition period.
If you are an EU lawyer working in the UK you need to make sure you can continue to practise after the transition period, from January 2021.
1. Lawyers with English, Welsh or Northern Irish qualifications and professional titles
Lawyers from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland using English, Welsh or Northern Irish qualifications can continue to practise as normal throughout the transition period. This applies to those who have been admitted to the UK profession:
- through a transfer test
- through the ‘3 years’ experience’ route under the Lawyers Establishment Directive
If you are practising in England, Wales or Northern Ireland with UK qualifications you do not need to take any action.
If you are practising in Scotland you should contact relevant Scottish regulators (see further information).
2. Lawyers with EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein qualifications and professional titles
Lawyers with qualifications and professional titles from the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein need to take one of the following actions to continue to practise in England, Wales or Northern Ireland after the transition period. The appropriate action will depend on the legal services you practise and business model:
- requalify as a UK lawyer with the relevant regulator, if they want to provide reserved legal activities under routes for non-EU lawyers
- register as a Registered Foreign Lawyer with the relevant regulator, if they do not want to provide reserved legal activities, but want to work jointly with a UK lawyer
- work under the supervision of a UK lawyer
- only undertake unreserved legal activities
3. Transition arrangements for Registered European Lawyers (RELs)
EU lawyers who registered with the relevant competent authority as a Registered European Lawyer (REL) in the UK before 31 January 2020 will retain their current practice and qualification rights until the end of December 2020. During this period, they will be able to requalify as a UK lawyer under existing routes.
If you are a lawyer from the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, working in England and Wales, or Northern Ireland, you should contact your UK regulator (see further information) for specific advice.
If you are a lawyer from the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein working in Scotland you should contact the relevant Scottish regulators (see further information) for specific advice.
Swiss lawyers who have registered in the UK or transferred to a UK professional title before Brexit do not need to take any action to continue to practise after 31 January 2020 as long as they remain registered in the UK.
Swiss lawyers using Swiss a qualification or title, or those in the process of qualifying will need to start their application to register in the UK or to transfer to the UK profession by 31 January 2024.
Read more information on the UK-Switzerland Separation Agreement.
If you are a Swiss lawyer practising in England, Wales or Northern Ireland with UK qualifications you do not need to take any action at this time.
If you are a Swiss lawyer practising in Scotland you should contact relevant Scottish regulators (see further information) for specific advice.
5. Recognition of qualifications
After 31 January 2020 there will be a new system in place for recognising professional qualifications. For more detail, please see guidance for regulatory bodies on mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
6. Further information
- The EU Commission preparedness notice on the recognition of professional qualifications
- The EU Commission Brexit preparedness seminar on professional qualifications, intellectual property, civil justice, company law, consumer protection and personal data
- The Solicitors Regulation Authority
- The Law Society
- The Bar Standards Board
- The Bar Council
- The Law Society of Northern Ireland
- The Bar Council of Northern Ireland
- The Law Society of Scotland
- The Faculty of Advocates