The following speech was delivered on Thursday 5 December 2019, at the launch of ThecCityUK report Legal Excellence, Internationally Renowned, at Linklaters in London.
Thank you Gideon, and many thanks to Linklaters for kindly hosting this evening’s launch event.
I’m Gary Campkin, Managing Director, External Relations & Strategic Issues at TheCityUK and it’s a pleasure for me to say a few words before introducing the Chancellor of the High Court.
As you know, TheCityUK is the representative body for the UK-based financial and related professional services ecosystem. Our members from law firms, the Bar & in-house counsel, as well as clients who use legal services, participate in the full range of our committees and activities. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution and also to acknowledge James Palmer, Chair and Senior Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills specifically as the Chairman of our Legal Services Group.
Now in its ninth year of publication, TheCityUK’s annual Legal Services Report has become an important one-stop resource that brings together data from a wide array of sources to highlight what I’m sure those in this room already recognise: the legal services sector and the UK jurisdictions make a significant contribution to our economy. Together, they provide the foundation upon which this country is able to thrive as a world-leading international financial centre and the world’s fifth largest economy.
The UK’s legal services industry is truly world-class and a genuine national asset. Its economic impact is felt across the length and breadth of the country. It contributes 1.5% - or £26bn - of UK gross value added, employs more than 338,000 people - with two-thirds of those based outside London - and its trade surplus has more than doubled in the past 10 years to a record £6.5bn in 2018.
The UK’s standing in legal services is supported by both the international prestige of English common law and the strength of the judicial institutions which underpin our legal system.
While it’s true that Brexit could present some short-term challenges if some of our EU trading partners neglect to see the clear mutual value in continuing civil judicial cooperation measures, it is important that we, as a sector, don’t lose sight of the inherent value proposition of this jurisdiction and legal services opportunities globally.
We know that the core benefits of choosing English law and England and Wales as a jurisdiction will remain, regardless of the Brexit outcome, but we cannot be complacent, as other jurisdictions are seeking to become more competitive and eat into our leading-edge advantage.
The role the judiciary plays in the value proposition of this jurisdiction cannot be overstated. I’m therefore delighted that the Chancellor of the High Court – The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Vos – has taken the time to join us here and deliver our keynote address this evening. His latest initiative to pursue the publication of a definitive legal statement on crypto-assets and smart contracts has been ground-breaking. It’s a pleasure to ask Sir Geoffrey to speak.