Justice secretary: liberalised Indian market would boost UK economy

India could double the value of its legal market and provide opportunities for UK businesses if it liberalised, according to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who made the comments during a speech at Allen & Overy’s (A&O) City offices today.

Grayling was at A&O to talk about launching an update to the Government’s Plan for Growth – a programme of structural reforms to boost business published alongside the budget in 2011 – and reiterating the Government’s support for the legal sector, both at home and abroad.

Grayling stated that London was just as much a legal centre as a financial one, adding that the judicial expertise and experience housed in the UK meant businesses saved up to £1.4bn a year by resolving their disputes here.

Chris Grayling
Chris Grayling

“British law has an unrivalled reputation in the world: a decision from a UK court carries a global guarantee of impartiality, integrity and enforceability,” said Grayling.

Grayling then espoused the benefits that come from a liberalised legal market. The comment about India comes one month after Prime Minister David Cameron flew out a high-level business delegation to India that included DLA Piper senior partner Tony Angel in a bid to boost the UK’s relationship with the sub-continent (18 February 2013).

“Our legal sector is also one of the most open in the world,” said Grayling during his speech at A&O. “And the benefits of removing barriers to foreign investment and business are clear, with UK legal exports almost quadrupling in little more than a decade and over 200 foreign law firms now operating in London.

“But, we want to go further. Promoting industry. Promoting growth. Promoting jobs. Encouraging international businesses to come to the UK to have contracts written and disputes resolved; cementing Britain’s position as a global centre of legal excellence and removing barriers to UK law firms operating overseas.

“Above all, as this action plan and the last year have shown, we are determined to help British law firms and barristers compete in the global race and develop a presence that is equal to their world-class reputation.”

Chris Cummings, the chief executive of TheCityUK, added: “English law, like the English language, is commonly used in global commerce and international dispute resolution and London has long been recognised as a primary centre for international and commercial litigation and arbitration. Today, companies are twice as likely to choose English law over other governing laws for arbitration. In addition, the UK allows virtually unrestricted access for foreign law firms. There are over 200 foreign law firms in the UK and many of these firms derive a large proportion of their overall turnover from business conducted in London.”