International firms to settle legal disputes in Ireland under proposal

If successful, the initiative, which has been led by the Bar of Ireland, could be worth hundreds of millions of euro annually to the Irish economy and create thousands of jobs.

However, Ireland will face significant competition, with several other European jurisdictions indicating they will also be making a play for lucrative international legal business, which is expected to leave the UK following Brexit.

The UK is the venue for a huge volume of international disputes, with around 80pc of cases in the London Commercial Court involving at least one non-UK party. In almost half of its case in 2010, all of the parties were foreign.

Much of this work is expected to leave the UK in future amid fears judgments will not be enforced in EU member states as easily as they currently are.

The strategy, which is expected to be launched by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in the comings weeks, will involve efforts to convince international firms to use Irish law as the governing law of contracts and to designate Ireland as the forum for resolving disputes.


Writing in the ‘Bar Review’ journal, Bar Council chairman Paul McGarry SC said Brexit presented a “unique opportunity” to encourage international companies to use the Irish legal system.

Ireland will be the only English-speaking common law jurisdiction fully integrated into the European legal order after March 2019.

He said a series of events are due to take place early next year to promote the strategy, including a major conference in Dublin in early March.

Mr McGarry said the Bar had worked with the Department of Justice and IDA Ireland to formulate a detailed proposal on opportunities to increase the market for international legal services in Ireland.

The IDA will play a key role in seeking to drive international legal business towards the Irish courts.

It has already been working to encourage international law firms to locate in Ireland.

But competition is expected from France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

English language commercial courts have been proposed in Frankfurt and Amsterdam, while there are also proposals for an English language division of the French court system to deal with financial matters.

An international commercial court has also been proposed for Brussels.

Over a fifth of the UK’s legal market is driven by international work, while the proportion in Ireland is less than 10pc.

A Bar of Ireland proposal document for the Department of Justice suggested there could be between 3,000 and 5,000 additional jobs in the sector if the strategy is implemented.

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