UK-NZ FTA opens doors for cross-border practice

The Law Society of England and Wales will be collaborating with the NZ Law Society on a requalification system

UK-NZ FTA opens doors for cross-border practice

A free-trade agreement (FTA) has been entered into in principle by the UK and New Zealand, a move that enables lawyers to practise across borders.

“The UK-New Zealand FTA provides a framework for continued business across borders with our colleagues in New Zealand. It commits to liberalising services in a way that strengthens existing bilateral relations and deepens market access, making it easier for professionals like lawyers to operate in each other’s economies,” explained I. Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society of England and Wales.

Boyce confirmed that the agreement covers professional services and recognises professional qualifications.

“It confirms the existing rights of UK and New Zealand lawyers to advise clients in their home-country and international law, and to provide arbitration, mediation and conciliation services in the other country’s territory using their original qualifications and title,” she said. “We welcome the recognition that routes to recognition of qualifications should be efficient and transparent.”

The FTA also puts forward what the Law Society of England and Wales said was a first in New Zealand and UK FTA practices – a domestic regulation chapter that indicates the two nations’ backing of “ambitious rules building on those currently under development in World Trade Organisation negotiations.” Under the chapter, UK and NZ will commit to running impartial, transparent and responsive regulatory systems.

Both countries are also looking to bolster people networks through commitment to a mobility dialogue.

“We also look forward to deepening our discussions on providing a clear, transparent requalification system with our key counterparts, including the New Zealand Law Society, and welcome the clear framework for regulatory dialogue proposed under the FTA with New Zealand to further this cooperation,” Boyce said.

She expressed her hope that the commitments made in relation to market access for services professionals would serve as a strong foundation for tackling related concerns in the final agreement.

“A challenge for trade negotiations is that many barriers to trade in legal services are ‘behind the border’ and are not covered by FTAs. Therefore, it’s vital there is further cooperation to advance seamless cross-border provision of legal services, as indicated in the proposed regulatory dialogue between relevant authorities in the legal sectors of both countries,” Boyce said. “UK workers will benefit from improved business travel arrangements and professionals such as lawyers and architects will be able to work in New Zealand more easily, allowing UK companies to set up shop and bring the best British talent with them,”

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