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Brexit backstop

29 Nov 2019 / Brexit Print

Growing numbers seeking a ‘Brexit backstop’

2019 marks another record year for Brexit admissions to the Roll of Solicitors from our neighbouring jurisdictions.

This is the fourth successive year in which the December Gazette has published lists of the law firms whose England-and-Wales qualified solicitors have taken out an additional qualification by entering their names on the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland.

In addition, this year as last year, this Gazette publishes a table with the number of those solicitors who have taken out an Irish practising certificate for the practice year 2019.

Since December 2018, two separate dates on which Brexit was due to be ‘done’ have come and gone. Perhaps these missed Brexit dates were additional drivers of numbers, but, for whatever reason, 2019 had already been a record year for admissions from our neighbouring jurisdictions.

Most notably, there was an all-time record number from England and Wales. No less than 1,817 new solicitors from that jurisdiction had their names entered on the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland, representing a massive increase (+163%) on the 690 new entrants of 2018.

Milestones

A number of milestones were reached in 2019 with, as of 12 November 2019, no fewer than 4,000 new admissions from our three neighbouring jurisdictions having occurred since 1 January 2016 (see table, below).

A current trend, however, is that the tide is abating somewhat. We are down to 100 pending admissions now, compared with the more than 200 consistently seen until the summer period.

This may reflect the Brexit extensions, or the confirmation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales that reciprocal admissions with Ireland will continue, post-Brexit.

Another major milestone passed in the middle of 2019 was the entry of 20,000 names on the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland, the first time this figure has been reached.

Approximately 20% of all the names on the Roll of Solicitors in this jurisdiction are now practitioners who originally qualified in England and Wales, and whose names have been entered on the Roll here since 1 January 2016.

Biggest increase

The firm that scores the largest increase in this year’s table is Linklaters LLP, which has grown its number of solicitors on the Roll by 206 to 259. (This compares with 53 in 2018.)

Allen & Overy  LLP, however, tops the table, with a total of 297 solicitors on the roll as we go to press – an increase of 187 practitioners compared with last year’s figure of 110. Of these, 183 solicitors hold Irish practising certificates in 2019.

The firm that topped the table in December 2016 was Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, whose number on the Roll has increased to 162 (as of now) from 131 in 2018.

Eversheds Sutherland LLP – the only firm other than DLA Piper LLP and Pinsent Mason LLP to actually have an office in this jurisdiction – is now third in the table (165), having topped it last year.

What will happen in 2020? Perhaps this trend will settle down, or even cease. As with everything to do with Brexit, predictions are impossible to make with any certainty.

Ken Murphy
Ken Murphy is Director General of the Law Society