Bar Council insists London will remain a global litigation centre as City law firms go into overdrive advising shaken clients

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By Thomas Connelly on

UK legal sector displays a stiff upper lip in wake of historic EU referendum result


The Bar Council, remaining resolute this morning, has suggested that London will continue to be a “leading centre” for global litigation, despite the UK voting to leave the EU in a historic referendum overnight.

In a result that went against pollsters and bookies alike, Brexit votes passed the winning post in the early hours of this morning with a margin of 52% to 48%.

The Bar Council — in an attempt to calm fears and address uncertainty across the legal sector — issued a statement this morning trumpeting its unwavering confidence in the bar of England and Wales.

Commenting on this morning’s decision to leave the EU — which in the past few hours triggered the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron — chairman of the bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said:

The bar of England and Wales is ready to assist in achieving an orderly restructuring of the UK’s relationship with the EU in the coming months and beyond. The long-term effect of Brexit on the legal services sector’s contribution to the UK economy will depend significantly on the nature and terms of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

Despite anticipating turbulent times ahead, Doerries expressed her confidence that London would “remain a leading centre for international dispute resolution.”

Continuing, the bar chair — who is also a leading commercial silk at London’s Atkin Chambers — said:

The reputation of barristers and our judiciary overseas, beyond the EU, is very high and I expect it will remain so in the years to come. We shall continue to work closely with our partners in European Bar Associations.

Away from the bar, and before the public had even headed to the polling stations, City lawyers were already having to address an influx in Brexit-related client demand.

According to reports, a host of City outfits including Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Norton Rose Fulbright had their top legal minds on 24-hour standby, monitoring the referendum and addressing client concerns as and when they came in.

Furthermore, magic circle firm Allen & Overy has revealed it will hold a call with clients at 2pm today to address key points in the wake of the result. With reports yesterday suggesting 500 clients had already signed up — when a leave vote seemed unlikely — this number will undoubtedly have rocketed in the past few hours.

With the outcome still sinking in across the City, Clifford Chance’s senior partner Malcolm Sweeting warned of “serious implications”. Speaking to Legal Week (£) he said:

We believe this outcome has serious implications for the City and many of our clients’ businesses with exposure to the UK and the EU. We are working alongside our clients to help them as they anticipate, plan for, and manage the challenges the coming political and trade negotiations will bring.

Expect some interesting twists and turns in the weeks ahead.