Guidance

Providing services including those of a qualified professional after Brexit

How professions and services will be regulated if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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There will be changes to how services are regulated and how professional qualifications obtained in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are recognised in the UK.

This guidance details the changes to the following areas:

  • mutual recognition of professional qualifications
  • provision of regulated legal services
  • provision of Services Regulations
  • SOLVIT problem solving service

This page covers professional qualifications, including legal services. There’s different guidance for auditors and accountants.

Recognition of professional qualifications

There will be no system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the EEA states, Switzerland and the UK. These changes will affect:

  • holders of EEA and Swiss qualifications wishing to work in the UK, including UK nationals
  • EEA and Swiss nationals with any non-UK qualification wishing to work in the UK
  • UK nationals wishing to provide professional services in the EEA or Switzerland

View a list of EEA and Swiss professions within the scope of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Recognition of professional qualifications in the UK

There will be a new UK recognition system after Brexit.

For EEA, Swiss and UK nationals who applied for recognition of a non-UK qualification under the pre-Brexit rules:

  • decisions made before Brexit day will remain valid
  • as far as is possible, applications made before Brexit day but not concluded by that date will be completed as though the pre-Brexit rules applied
  • applications for a recognition decision after Brexit day will be subject to the new system of recognition
  • for any questions on how your application will be processed please contact the relevant regulator

The new system of recognition of professional qualifications will:

  • require UK regulators to recognise EEA and Swiss qualifications which are of an equivalent standard to UK qualifications
  • no longer include certain obligations on UK regulators, such as offering compensation measures and partial access in circumstances where EEA/Swiss qualifications are not of an equivalent standard to UK qualifications
  • no obligation on UK regulators to make provisions for the temporary and occasional provision of services

These arrangements are without prejudice to the rights and privileges accorded, by virtue of the Common Travel Area, to Irish and UK citizens when in each other’s state.

UK nationals and/or holders of UK qualifications seeking recognition to work in regulated professions in the EU

The European Commission has said that recognition decisions made on qualifications obtained in the UK before Brexit are not affected. See the Commission guidance on regulated professions and recognition of professional qualifications.

After Brexit, UK nationals, and EU nationals with UK qualifications, will no longer be able to rely on EU law on the recognition of professional qualifications. For recognition decisions that will be made post-Brexit, for both permanent establishment and temporary work purposes, UK nationals should check the host country’s policies.

You can find out more in the selling services country guides.

Swiss, EEA EFTA and UK nationals

The UK has reached agreements on citizens’ rights with the 4 EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) which will apply if there’s a no-deal Brexit. These agreements include recognition of professional qualifications held by these countries’ nationals and UK nationals:

From the date the UK leaves the EU, EEA-qualified lawyers will be treated as third-country lawyers in England and Wales unless they have already been admitted to a UK legal profession.

These changes will affect:

  • EEA lawyers, including Registered European Lawyers
  • employers of Registered European Lawyers and other EEA lawyers
  • EEA lawyers who own or manage legal businesses in England/Wales or Northern Ireland Implications

EEA lawyers, including Registered European Lawyers

You will no longer be able to provide legal activities normally reserved to UK lawyers under your home state professional title in England/Wales and Northern Ireland. Reserved activities are: the exercise of a right of audience, the conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities (conveyancing), probate activities, notarial activities and the administration of oaths.

You will not be able to seek admittance to the English and Welsh or Northern Irish profession based on experience. The Scottish regulatory arrangements are different to those in England and Wales, or Northern Ireland. Information is available from the Law Society of Scotland.

If you have already been admitted to the legal profession of England and Wales or Northern Ireland you will be able to continue to practice in accordance with the relevant regulator’s rules. You will not need to take any action.

If you are still waiting for a decision on your application to the England and Wales or Northern Ireland legal profession when the UK leaves the EU, you should be able to complete the recognition process under pre-exit rules.

Registered European Lawyers will be able to transfer to a UK legal profession during a transitional period until 2020 in order to continue to provide regulated (‘reserved’ in England and Wales) legal activities. Contact your UK regulator for advice on transferring. You will be able to continue to practice during the transition period.

Seeking recognition after Brexit

Details of the new procedure to seek recognition of qualifications will be shared in due course. Contact the regulator for your qualification to get further information.

Employers of Registered European Lawyers and other EEA lawyers

If you provide regulated services in England/Wales and Northern Ireland you need to ensure your employees can continue to provide those services after the UK leaves the EU by doing one of the following:

  • transferring into the profession of the relevant UK jurisdiction
  • working under the supervision of a lawyer qualified to undertake those activities, subject to regulatory rules

You should contact your regulator for advice.

Further information is available in Providing services to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland after Brexit.

Contact your regulator for advice on ensuring your business model is compliant with the relevant regulatory from the day the UK leaves the EU.

Swiss lawyers who have registered in the UK or transferred to a UK professional title before Brexit do not need to take any action to continue to practise after Brexit as long as they remain registered in the UK.

Swiss lawyers using Swiss a qualification or title, or those in the process of qualifying will need to start their application to register in the UK or to transfer to the UK profession within 4 years of Brexit.

If you are a Swiss lawyer practising in England, Wales or Northern Ireland with UK qualifications you do not need to take any action at this time.

Read more information on the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Provision of Services Regulations

From the date the UK leaves the EU, there will be changes to the Provision of Services Regulations.

These changes will affect:

  • UK businesses providing services in the EEA
  • EEA businesses providing services in the UK

UK businesses providing services in the EEA

UK businesses providing services in the EEA will no longer be covered by the EU Services Directive.

UK businesses will no longer be treated as if they were local businesses. Services provided by UK businesses and professionals will be regarded as originating from a ‘third country’.

UK businesses and service providers may face additional legal, regulatory and administrative barriers as a result. The exact effects on businesses will likely vary depending on sector and EU country.

Actions for UK businesses

UK businesses will need to:

  • continue to provide the required information for service recipients and to maintain a complaints procedure
  • check the regulatory requirements for UK businesses in the EU countries they are providing services to
  • check whether a visa and/or work permit is required for an individual to provide services in person into EEA countries and comply with the immigration controls in place
  • check the host country’s policies on recognition of UK professional qualifications

You can find out more in the selling services country guides.

Read the detailed guidance on the changes to the Provision of Services Regulations that will come into force if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

EEA businesses providing services in the UK

EEA businesses providing services in the UK will no longer be covered by the EU Services Directive.

EEA businesses will no longer be treated as if they were local businesses. Services provided by EEA businesses and professionals will be regarded as originating from a ‘third country’.

Regulators will have the choice to impose more restrictive requirements on EEA service providers. In practice, the UK services market is highly liberalised and it is not envisaged that EEA businesses will face many additional barriers to entry to the UK market.

All businesses providing services in the UK will continue to benefit from the Provision of Services Regulations as they oblige Competent Authorities to design authorisation schemes and licensing requirements that are proportionate and justified in the public interest.

Actions for EEA businesses

Individual Competent Authorities will be responsible for advising EEA businesses on any future changes.

You should contact your Competent Authority for advice on any changes to their processes.

Read the detailed guidance on the changes to the Provision of Services Regulations that will come into force if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

SOLVIT problem solving service

The UK will no longer have access to the SOLVIT network.

The UK will close its SOLVIT Centre after Brexit. Any unresolved cases will be closed after exit day.

  • UK citizens and businesses will have to raise concerns directly with the competent authorities of the relevant EEA country
  • EEA nationals and businesses will have to raise concerns directly with UK competent authorities
Published 12 October 2018