It is too early to determine the impact of Brexit on family law, legal groups have declared.
In last week’s referendum, the British public voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union. The economic impact was immediately felt as the pound fell to its lowest value since 1985. Meanwhile, the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) 100 Index fell by an initial eight per cent before finishing Friday more than three per cent lower than it had been before the vote.
However, the implications of the vote have yet to be felt in family law or the wider legal sector.
Nigel Shepherd is the chair of the family law organisation Resolution. He said the referendum had sparked “a period of great uncertainty”.
Currently, English family law is “intrinsically linked to that in other jurisdictions”, he explained, and it is unclear if this result will have an impact on “measures like Brussels IIa, which provides for uniform jurisdictional rules for divorce proceedings”. Similarly, maintenance is regulated by the EU so there is no way to know how this will be affected either, he said.
Brexit has “created an unprecedented and complex range of legal issues”, the Law Society claimed following the result. Jonathan Smithers, the group’s president, said that there was “an enormous amount of work to do in the coming months and years to establish the terms of withdrawal from the EU”. Despite the uncertainty, Smithers insisted that there would be “no immediate change to anyone’s legal rights or obligations”. He also hoped England and Wales would “continue to be the global centre for legal excellence”.
Chairman of the Bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries said the long term impact of the referendum result on the legal sector will “depend significantly on the nature and terms of the [UK’s] post-Brexit relationship with the EU”. However, she was confident that London would “remain a leading centre for international dispute resolution”.