Speech by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court: The UK Jurisdictions After 2019

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Judges must, of course, be very conscious that they cannot and must not enter the political arena; they cannot and must not try to advise governments on what they should do in terms of legislation or treaties. But it seems to me at least in the Brexit context that judges would be failing in their duty if they did not point out to Government the legal issues that require to be addressed in the context of a seismic change to our juridical landscape on the scale of Brexit.

It was for this purpose that the previous Lord Chancellor established the Brexit Law Committee in order to report to Government and other interested parties on how Brexit might affect the UK legal systems, to develop with Government strategies for maintaining and enhancing the utilisation after Brexit of English law and UK legal services (including all forms of dispute resolution), and to provide a forum and a resource for consideration of and reporting on legal and commercial issues relating to Brexit.

What I want to focus on in this lecture is the things that judges and indeed lawyers can do to ensure that our legal systems and legal structures are as competitive on the global stage after Brexit as they have always been. The elephant in this room and the elephant in many other gatherings of legal luminaries in the UK is the competition that the UK jurisdictions and English and Scots law face from other jurisdictions keen to attract commercial business away from the UK.