Working with European lawyers—the Registered European Lawyer (REL) regime

The following Practice Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Working with European lawyers—the Registered European Lawyer (REL) regime
  • Becoming a registered European lawyer
  • Eligibility
  • When it is not possible to register
  • Choosing which regulator to register with
  • How to register with the SRA as a registered European lawyer
  • Working as an SRA-registered European lawyer
  • Where an SRA-registered European lawyer can work
  • Practising rights of registered European lawyers
  • Restrictions on registered European lawyers’ activities
  • More...

Working with European lawyers—the Registered European Lawyer (REL) regime

At 11 pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020, the Brexit transition/implementation period, entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, came to an end. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s legal regime.

Prior to IP completion day, the Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5/EC (Establishment Directive) gave members of certain legal professions in the EU, EEA and Switzerland the right to practise in the UK on a permanent basis, subject to registration with one of the UK’s legal regulatory bodies. In England and Wales, the relevant regulatory bodies were the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board (BSB). Separate arrangements were in place for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Lawyers registered under this regime were known as Registered European Lawyers or RELs.

Since IP completion day, the REL regime has largely fallen away. On 1 January 2021, the SRA arranged for all SRA-regulated RELs who had not opted out of the process automatically to become registered foreign lawyers or RFLs. 

The one exception to this is for certain Swiss lawyers. Under separate arrangements put in place in the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement, Swiss lawyers, within scope, who have registered in the UK as

Popular documents