Four ways for Ireland to become a centre for international dispute resolution post-Brexit

The Society has set out a path to seize potential economic benefits offered by Brexit.

  • A common law system is the choice of law underpinning international trade and services
  • Ireland is the main EU common-law country post-Brexit
  • Investment and modernisation of the Courts Service is required to keep pace with competitor jurisdictions and position Ireland as a dispute resolution forum of choice

Ireland has the opportunity to become a centre for international dispute resolution post-Brexit, but the Law Society of Ireland today warned that we may miss out on jobs and other economic benefits if there is no Government investment in the modernisation of the Courts Service.

“While recent improvements in the Courts Service have been a welcome move, these are against the backdrop of disproportionate budget cuts during the recession and major courts-related initiatives being made in countries like the Netherlands, France and Germany in response to Brexit,” said Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society of Ireland.

“It is already clear that some legal work – particularly litigation and Commercial Court cases – that would previously have been undertaken in the UK, is now seeking EU bases. As the principal common law jurisdiction left in the EU post-Brexit, Ireland is well placed to benefit from this. However, based on our competitor jurisdictions recent upgrades, we must invest in order to compete for this work.”

The wider Irish legal sector currently generates an estimated €2.3bn annually in revenue, and contributes €1.7bn to the Irish economy, employing in excess of 18,000 people.

In the Law Society’s recent response to the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation’s Action Plan for Jobs 2018, the Society called on Government to adopt a strategic approach to court resourcing and to place the development of the legal and judicial regime at the core of its Brexit response.

It also set out four key areas that the Irish Government should focus on to ensure Ireland is better positioned to compete for future business.

  1. Increase the number of specialist judges, appoint additional registrars to create greater capacity, reduce delays and increase efficiencies;
  2. Increase the use of technology to improve timeliness and efficiency of legal administration;
  3. Prioritise the promotion of alternative dispute resolution options to free up capacity in the court system; and
  4. As part of the current review of civil court rules, ensure the administrative burden on businesses and individuals is minimised.

“We were encouraged to hear Chief Justice Frank Clarke’s prioritisation of resourcing and investment in technology in his New Legal Year Statement. With the Budget looming, we call on the Government to invest in those services and processes which can ‘future proof’ the Courts system for those businesses and people based in Ireland, and to attract international litigation.”

“Strong governance and stable well-functioning institutions underpin the world’s most successful economies and a modern, efficient and effective Courts Service can contribute to this during these uncertain economic times,” said Mr Murphy.

The Law Society’s response also identifies priority areas for Government during Brexit negotiations and several large-scale initiatives that could reduce administrative burdens on the State and improve public services.

Submissions by Law Society Committees and other sections are listed under Submissions.

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