Brexit, qualifications, and provision of legal services - FAQ

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) have been prepared to assist solicitors with queries that they might have in the context of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

brexit faq

FAQ

Are there specific questions you would like to see answered in this section? Please forward your questions to c.oculain@lawsociety.ie.

Guidance on Practising Certificates for solicitors outside of Ireland

The Society has issued new guidance for solicitors on the Irish Roll who are practising outside the jurisdiction.

The document sets out the position regarding such practitioners and their entitlements under Irish and EU law.

I am an Irish solicitor. How do I join the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales?

The Law Society of Ireland provides a preparatory course on England and Wales Property Law, which will also guide you through the application process.

If you have already successfully undertaken this preparatory course, or have qualified in recent years through the Society’s Professional Practice Course and completed the preparatory module on England and Wales property law, you are in principle eligible to join the Roll in England and Wales. You should consider applying to do so formally as soon as possible.

The Law Society of England and Wales information page should also be consulted. The requirements and procedures are set by Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) of England and Wales are available on the SRA website

The SRA has also produced a helpful roadmap showing the process of qualification through the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which will apply from autumn 2021.

I am an England and Wales qualified solicitor and want to join the Irish roll, what are the requirements?

Solicitors qualified in England & Wales can find the requirements under Certificate of Admission.

I am a Registered European Lawyer (REL). What are the implications of a ‘no-deal’?

In circumstances where no transition agreement in place on 29 March 2019 and the UK becomes a third country, UK qualified solicitors are likely to be no longer eligible to act as RELs in this jurisdiction.

WTO and GATS frameworks would apply to a REL meaning that they can only provide legal advice on UK law and public international law (excluding EU law) under their home country title. As non-EU qualified lawyers are not permitted to hold themselves out as or pursue the professional activities of a solicitor, these solicitors would be classified as ‘unqualified persons’ and as such would be unregulated by the Society. 

In circumstances where a transition period is agreed, UK solicitors can continue to be RELs until the end of the transition agreement; and thereafter subject to the terms of any future arrangement.

I am an Irish based qualified solicitor advising a UK based client on matters relating to his/their UK and Irish affairs. Can I continue to do so in a 'hard' Brexit?

Generally speaking, and by way of example, if an Irish based and qualified solicitor holds a valid practising certificate in the England and Wales and is advising a client resident in England on a transaction that took place in England, this would be the jurisdiction of the SRA. This would continue to be the case in the event of a “hard” Brexit. 

I am a Northern Irish solicitor based in Northern Ireland. Can I continue to represent clients in the Courts in the Republic?

Currently, if a firm of solicitors based in Northern Ireland seeks to provide legal services in this jurisdiction it must, in the case of each solicitor intending to work in the Republic, complete a special form of application by contacting pc@lawsociety.ie.  

This form contains an undertaking to forward to the Society a copy of their annual accountant’s report at the same time as this is being filed with the Law Society of Northern Ireland. Each solicitor must also obtain a practising certificate in this jurisdiction.

In order to represent clients in the courts in the Republic, a Northern Ireland-qualified solicitor would need to be on the Roll of Solicitors in the Republic and hold a valid practising certificate for the Republic.

Once the above is satisfied, a Northern Ireland-qualified solicitor could continue to practice. That said, there may be various PII issues that arise in respect of the solicitor’s insurance master policy no longer extending to the provision of legal services in the Republic, which would have an impact on a solicitor’s ability to practice. This is presently being considered by the PII Committee of the Law Society.

I qualified in the UK but am based in the EU. How do I join the Roll in Ireland?

If you are a national of a Member State of the European Union and are qualified to practise as a lawyer in your home Member State, you may be able to register as a foreign qualified solicitor under the Establishment Directive (98/5/EC). Further details are available under EU Registered Lawyers.

For full details on qualifying and becoming a solicitor in Ireland please see Become a Solicitor.

How are the supply and purchase of cross border legal services to third countries accounted for with respect to VAT?

Supplies to business customers outside the EU (B2B)

In general, the supplies of services to business customers outside the EU are not subject to VAT. You must obtain sufficient evidence and proof that the customer is a taxable person.

According to the Revenue Commissioners you should obtain the following:

  • Proof as to the place of establishment of the customer outside the EU.
  • Proof that the customer is a taxable person, such as sufficient evidence from your customer to show that he or she is a taxable person.

Further details are available on the Revenue website.

Supplies to non-business customers outside the EU (B2C)

For the services to be supplied free of VAT, the supplier will need to provide proof that the customer is established outside the European Union (EU).

You must obtain the necessary information from the customer and verify the accuracy of that information. Credit card pre-authorisation checks can verify the address associated with a card number.

If a supply is incorrectly identified as a non-EU supply and VAT is not charged, you may be liable for Irish VAT. You may also incur interest and penalties in the event of a Revenue audit.

For further information on VAT please refer to the following Revenue links:

If you have further queries in relation to VAT implications for your firm or clients, and it is not a customs matter, please direct your queries to your local tax office.

You are also advised to update yourself on UK Revenue Customs changes and updates insofar as it relates to the United Kingdom.

What are the GDPR implications for practices in the context of a no-deal when transferring data to the United Kingdom/Northern Ireland?

In the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, law firms which transfer data to the UK (including Northern Ireland) will be transferring data out of the EU. This situation can arise in many ways: where you have clients in the UK, where services are outsourced to the UK, or expert witnesses are contracted from the UK.

Each firm needs to consider its own data flow and extra measures may be required to ensure legal transfer of data, including the possibility of putting in place standard contractual clauses to accommodate transfers/processing, obtaining consents, etc. 

‘No-deal’ Brexit guidance is available from:

What are the implications of a 'no deal' for providing legal services in the United Kingdom?

The relevant authorities have provided useful information on the provision of legal services after a no-deal Brexit.

Disclaimer

The information above is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation, nor to be taken as legal advice.

The FAQ will be added to over time, as the situation develops. Adjacent issues such as right of residence or work permits may also apply. The Law Society takes no responsibility for the information contained at external links, and are provided here for information purposes only

Last updated: 30 July 2019