The senior partners of all five magic circle firms have come together for the first time to warn the Treasury that aspects of the Clementi reforms could threaten £2bn of annual legal services exports.
In a letter to economic secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls the partners, along with the Bar Council chair Geoffrey Vos QC, voiced concerns that plans to allow the Government to appoint members of a new super-regulator could threaten the export of legal services.
It states a broad support to the proposed Legal Services Bill, but goes on to say that the regulation of lawyers “is transparently independent of Government control, and is seen as such by the widest possible audience”.
The letter to Balls is signed by senior partners Stuart Popham of Clifford Chance, Guy Beringer of Allen & Overy, Guy Morton of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Tim Clark of Slaughter and May and David Cheyne of Linklaters.
The letter goes on to say: “Overseas legal professions and commercial consumers of legal services have expressed concern that the Government’s proposed legislation would vitiate the profession’s independence.”
According to the letter, the German legal profession has already written a formal letter expressing concern about the independence of UK lawyers from the Government under the proposed reforms.
The intervention comes as the controversial bill receives its the second reading in the House of Commons today (4 June).