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UK legal services ‘key to boosting’ global economic growth

Justice secretary outlines plans to consolidate legal sector’s international position 

15 March 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

The UK’s legal services sector holds the key to boosting global economic growth, Chris Grayling has said.

Speaking at the UK Legal Services Plan for Growth event at Allen & Overy’s London office yesterday, the justice secretary said he wanted to consolidate the legal sector’s international standing.

“British law has an unrivalled reputation in the world: a decision from a UK court carries a global guarantee of impartiality, integrity and enforceability.

“Our legal sector is also one of the most open in the world. And the benefits of removing barriers to foreign investment and business are clear, with UK legal exports almost quadrupling in little more than a decade and over 200 foreign law firms now operating in London.

“But, we want to go further. Promoting industry. Promoting growth. Promoting jobs. Encouraging international businesses to come to the UK to have contracts written and disputes resolved; cementing Britain’s position as a global centre of legal excellence and removing barriers to UK law firms operating overseas. 

“Above all, as this action plan and the last year have shown, we are determined to help British law firms and barristers compete in the global race and develop a presence that is equal to their world class reputation.”

Launching an update to the ambitious Plan for Growth, Grayling reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting legal services at home and in international markets, saying that trade could not exist without a strong legal framework that businesses could have confidence in.

The action plan for 2013/14 includes: ensuring all relevant UK government departments are aware of and engaged with the promotion of UK legal services; developing relations with those markets with restricted access for UK lawyers and promoting the benefits of legal market liberalisation; and utilising social media and innovative technology in the promotion of UK legal services.

Commenting on the government’s plan, Law Society deputy vice president Andrew Caplen said: “For the global economy to recover from the worst crisis in many years, trade and investment are central to re-generating strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the UK and overseas. This cannot be done without solicitors.

“Our solicitors are already developing wider networks and relations with firms overseas, internationalising their operations, and taking advantage of the benefits of English law to assist their clients, whoever they are and wherever they are. London has a central role in advising businesses in emerging markets as they continue to drive global recovery.”

The UK legal services market is worth £26.8bn and employs up to 320,000 people in England and Wales. It contributes a net £3bn to the UK’s balance of trade.

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