Ken Clarke: law and lawyers among the UK’s “greatest exports”

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke has launched the Legal Services Action plan aimed at promoting London as the legal capital of the world.


Kenneth Clarke
Kenneth Clarke

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke has launched the Legal Services Action plan aimed at promoting London as the legal capital of the world.

In a speech, which took place at Clifford Chance’s offices today, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke underlined the Government’s commitment to promoting the UK legal industry abroad and called for a need to modernise the UK’s ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘bureaucratic’ civil and criminal justice system. 

Hailing the UK’s legal services ‘world-class’, Clarke outlined initiatives the Government is undertaking to further the interests of the UK’s legal businesses.

The Legal Services Action plan includes the expansion of legal services into new markets, namely; South East Asia, Brazil, Turkey and India and introducing new ways for legal businesses to grow by introducing Alternative Business Structures which, Clarke anticipates, will increase competition, encourage investment and improve the service available to the consumer.

Clarke said: “I intend that the new Alternative Business Structures which come in on October 6th will be of benefit both to the economy and the profession. Time will tell, but I hope that comparisons with the Big Bang in 1986 do not prove entirely fanciful.”

Calling the rule of law one of the UK’s ‘greatest exports’, Clarke also emphasised the need for UK nationals to choose mediation before embarking on a lengthy and expensive court process.

The measures being introduced to encourage this include automatic referral to mediation in small claims cases, as well as plans to tighten up on referral fees and “no win, no fee” claims.

Clarke said: “What all adds up to, I hope, is a vision of the future of litigation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. My aim is a system which encourages people only to resort to courtroom where sensible; cuts costs where costs are unavoidable; and promotes UK law wherever and whenever possible”.

He went on to say: “Law as an industry has sometimes felt itself to be overlooked in its treatment by government – certainly relative to financial services. So I want to make it clear that for this Government, the City of London is a legal centre – not just a financial one.

“Contrary to popular myth, I do not wear hush puppies but I am prepared to wear out much shoe leather promoting the UK as lawyer and adviser to the world, particularly in areas where protectionist regulations remain an impediment to exporting UK services.”

 
The full transcript from today’s speech can be found here http://www.sentpressrelease.com//email/attachment/download?hash=92afc1c34798952c33ba7131dfaf09ca90314c77b5d1b63782721be00079344f