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Trade in Legal Services under Chapter 10 (cross border trade in services) of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The Law Council of Australia is pleased to make this submission to assist the Committee’s inquiries into matters arising from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), tabled on 9 February 2016. 

This submission will deal exclusively with issues in relation to trade in legal services under Chapter 10 (Cross Border Trade in Services) of the TPP. The Law Council’s Intellectual Property Committee will lodge a separate submission, addressing the meaning and effect of Chapter 18 of the TPP (the Intellectual Property (IP) Chapter). 

Long term benefits of TPP ratification in relation to trade in legal services 

In relation to trade in legal services, the Law Council considers that the TPP provides a good platform for deeper and more meaningful market access reforms that TPP parties could adopt into the future. In particular, Annex 10-A (Professional Services) includes specific recognition that “transnational legal services that cover the laws of multiple jurisdictions play an essential role in facilitating trade and investment and in promoting economic growth and business confidence”. 

Annex 10-A also includes a commitment by TPP parties to consider certain matters in the development of regulations to enable the practice of foreign law. The list of matters for consideration is substantially based on the Law Council’s Best Practice Principles for the Practice of Foreign Law and Transnational Law Practice. A copy of the Best Practice Principles is enclosed

This commitment is particularly valuable as it provides guidance to TPP parties when reviewing rules governing the practice of foreign law as well as a mutually agreed framework for TPP parties to assess the quality of regulatory developments affecting the scope of practice by foreign lawyers. 

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