Project Fear: ‘Lawyers In For Britain’ Claim Brexit Would Prompt ‘Regulationfest’, Predict Legal Exodus To Maintain Remunerative Work

Lawyers In For Britain

A report from anti-Brexit campaign group Lawyers In For Britain claims Brexit would give birth to a “regulationfest” fed by the Civil Service and private sector scrambling to reproduce the European Union’s bureaucracy.

The report from Lawyers in For Britain (LIFB) — a group which has claimed the backing of 300 lawyers including many of London’s highly-paid City solicitors — was produced to bypass the “great deal of misinformation” LIFB Chairman John Davies says currently dominates the European Union  (EU) debate. The group explains:

Ultimately, we believe a sensible judgment on EU membership can be made only on the basis of reliable evidence.

We therefore decided to gather together into a single report what we consider to be the most reliable key evidence on which we have based our respective conclusions that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining in the EU.

By its own definition the report is not intended to give a fair voice to both sides but to argue for the anti-Brexit line, and indeed the group is not an unbiased arbiter of EU law. On its own website it says it is made up of lawyers “who consider that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining in the EU” and many of those participating have relied on the EU for their legal careers.

Indeed, as Breitbart London previously reported, John Davies is an antitrust, competition and trade practice partner at Anglo-German legal giant Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer who works out of Brussels (an office he founded in 1989) and London. He even used to be a case officer in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition. He claims:

“The words we hear most from those yet to make up their minds, are ‘give us the facts’. We have done that – and our conclusion is that that the UK is safer, stronger and better off in the EU.”

Another of the report’s signatories, Martin Coleman — a regular speaker on EU and competition law topics — has argued that the belief Brexit will result in a reduction in regulatory red tape is a misconception. He said:

“Thousands upon thousands of new UK rules and regulations will be needed if the UK leaves. Separate international, bilateral and individual trade deals will need to be negotiated and drafted. New UK rules will still need to comply with many of the existing European rules. Far from offering a reduction in rules, the UK will be engaged in a ‘regulationfest’, needing a swollen Whitehall and an expansion in government lawyers, advisers and bureaucrats.”

While it is true to say individual trade deals will need to be produced, something which pro-Brexit campaigners actively support, the belief that all existing regulation will need to be reproduced betrays a lawyer’s mind. Mr. Coleman is another senior lawyer who, as Global Head of Antitrust and Competition and Global Co-head of Regulation and Investigations at global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, has the EU to thank for much of his work.

Revealing the motivation of at least some members of the City’s legal profession, Mr. Davies predicted a post-Brexit rush of lawyers looking overseas to re-qualify into other European jurisdictions to make sure they can continue working in Brussels and the European Court of Justice.

Speaking to Legal Cheek after the report’s launch, competition law barrister and LIFB supporter Anneli Howard — a former Référendaire at the European Court of Justice — suggested there could be a UK lawyer retraining exodus to Ireland to give what that website called “stubborn Europhile barristers” the chance to participate in Court of Justice case law.

Sir Alan Dashwood QC — an Emeritus Professor of European Law at the University of Cambridge and a former Director in the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union — agreed and even suggested the process has begun, saying:

“Certainly some practitioners will re-qualify — indeed I believe some have done so already, by way of insurance. That may work for individuals with established reputations.

“I don’t believe there would be much prospect for a young person starting at the bar in the UK to build up an EU practice post-withdrawal.”

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