Selling English Law Abroad: The UK jurisdiction fights for emerging sectors

October 13, 2021

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2 min read

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What's going on here?

As globalisation and digitisation allow businesses more choice over governing jurisdiction, a report has identified an opportunity to establish English law as the go-to in emerging sectors and industries (think fintech and crypto assets).

What does this mean?

A report on the strength of English law was commissioned by LegalUK, a private group set up by the Lord Chief Justice, to promote English law as the governing law of choice for international business. Said report found that the UK should maintain its position as one of the top commercial centres in the world, with London and other major cities across the UK maintaining its provision of quality legal services. Other advantages noted were the usefulness of the proceedings being in the language of business (English), as well as the flexibility of the UK legal system.

However, it is not all rosy for the country’s courts, as other jurisdictions aim to promote their own legal systems. The report highlights that globalisation and digitisation of business allows more freedom for businesses to pick and choose which laws should govern their transactions. As such, the core suggestion in the report to maintain English law’s relevance and dominance is to pave the way for high growth markets like Artificial Intelligence and fintech.

What's the big picture effect?

The UK Government has been set in asserting its position as an economic centre now that the country is out of the EU. Part of this focus is ensuring a booming tech industry. This is already underway, with the UK tech industry raising £13.5 billion in the first half of the year. The UK is also home to over 80 tech unicorns (billion dollar companies), more than any other country, with the exceptions of the US and China. In a keynote speech for London Tech Week, Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries set out the wish to facilitate the tech-friendly environment within the UK, stating that she “want[s] all of those businesses to stay in the UK, to grow in the UK, and to become global brands, based right here in the UK.”

Yet, Ms Dorries also admitted to the necessity of stable regulation. It has already been reported that the current regulatory burdens that exist in the UK, such as corporate and environmental standards, can discentivise companies from setting up shop in the UK or listing in the UK’s stock market. Legislation and regulation will have to be balanced with protecting consumers from potential impacts these tech developments might have – a topic already being tackled in relation to Big Tech, for example the Digital Markets Unit which you can read about here. However, this can bring opportunities for lawyers as companies will need help navigating the changing legal landscape both within the UK and across the world more broadly.

A fun statistic for anyone wondering what impact the dominance of English law can have – English law is the law of choice of maritime contracts, with the sector contributing over £15 billion annually to the UK economy. Just imagine the figures that the tech industry could bring…

Report written by Monika Sakyte

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