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‘Heavyweight’ Bruton named to push Ireland as global law hub
Patrick Dorgan, John Bruton, Ken Murphy and Liam Kennedy at the Department of Justice meeting

25 Oct 2019 / law society Print

'Heavyweight’ Bruton to push Ireland for global law

Former Taoiseach John Bruton is to chair a new working group to push Irish choice-of-law as a forum for international dispute resolution, post Brexit.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan announced today John Bruton has agreed to accept the position of Chair of the Implementation Group.

Launched today, it will support the effective realisation of the joint initiative of the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society to be called ‘Promoting Ireland as a leading centre globally for international legal services’. 


He will be a ‘heavyweight leader’ for the Implementation Group which is being announced today, according to Law Society director general Ken Murphy, who welcomed the news this morning.

The Law Society part of the initiative to promote Ireland as a leading centre globally for international legal services.

The initiative recognises Ireland’s futures competitive advantages post-Brexit as the only English-speaking common law jurisdiction fully integrated into the European legal order.

Working behind the scenes, the Law Society has been a prime mover in the push to maximise the opportunities thrown up for the Irish legal profession, given the changes wrought by Brexit.


“While we all recognise the challenges of Brexit, and the Government is working hard to address those challenges, it is also important to remember that Brexit does provide Ireland with opportunities,” Ken Murphy said this morning.

“The Law Society and the Bar of Ireland are working with IDA Ireland to secure this opportunity,” Ken Murphy said.


Minister Flanagan said: “I am delighted that John Bruton has agreed to be Chair of the Implementation Group.

“He brings with him not only his wide political experience and standing at both national and international level but also his previous successes in promoting our international financial services sector and as the EU’s representative in Washington.”

The legal community, the Attorney General, the judiciary and relevant Departments have also backed the move.


The Minister continued  “I congratulate the Group on the occasion of its first meeting along with the legal community who have taken this key initiative.

“While the ultimate outcome of the Brexit negotiations remains to be seen, the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union will leave Ireland as the only English-speaking common law jurisdiction in the Union.

“We will be uniquely placed to provide expanded international legal, litigation and arbitration services.”

Contested space

Ken Murphy added "This is a contested space.

"Other EU jurisdictions, including France, Germany and the Netherlands are positioning themselves to avail of any opportunities to avail of any additional legal work that may result from London potentially losing some of its pre-eminence as a legal centre, post-Brexit – not least because of the end to automatic enforceability of UK court judgments in EU Member States.

"A choice of Irish law and Irish courts in dispute resolution in international agreements may be the solution.

"But that message has to be delivered persuasively, and to the right people."


  • Chair – John Bruton,
  • The Bar of Ireland – Patrick Leonard SC, Paul McGarry SC,
  • Law Society – Patrick Dorgan, President and Liam Kennedy,
  • IDA Ireland – David Nolan and Eleanor Treanor,
  • Attorney General, Séamus Woulfe SC,
  • Senior officials of the Departments of an Taoiseach; Justice and Equality; Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform; Foreign Affairs and Trade and of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

A Department of Justice spokesman said "The key objective of the Implementation Group is to identify the best pathway to promote the use of Irish law and Irish legal services in contracts and transactions by communicating the existing advantages of Irish law, the Irish legal system and the Irish courts.

"This will inform the strategic approach and action plan on which the Group is now working and will announce in due course with details on its website.

"The Group is being supported with initial funding and secretarial support by the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society. This complements those wider supports that will continue to be provided by the Government and IDA Ireland, including through their respective missions and networks abroad and as part of our national Brexit strategy.

"The attraction of Ireland in a post-Brexit setting will build on our status as an English-speaking common law country and remaining EU Member State with internationally reputable and enforceable legal and courts systems.

"We are also engaged in an ongoing process of modernisation and reform of our legal services and justice systems. These factors can also be a boost to the wider economy building on our highly developed international business and financial services sectors."

John Bruton – Biography

John Bruton was born in 1947 and graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and politics in 1968, before studying to become a barrister at the King's Inns in Dublin. 

  • He was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1972,
  • He is married to Finola Bruton and has four adult children,
  • He became Taoiseach in 1994,
  • John Bruton was also deeply involved in the Northern Irish Peace Process leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement,
  • He was first elected to the Dáil in 1969 at 22, becoming leader of Fine Gael in 1990 and Taoiseach in 1994,
  • He previously served as Ireland’s Minister for Finance (1981-1982 and 1986-1987); Minister for Industry & Energy (1982-1983); Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism (1983-1986); and was Parliamentary Secretary (Junior Minister) from 1973-1977. He has also been opposition spokesman on Agriculture and on Education.


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