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What Is the Services Directive?

A new EU directive on services in the internal market entered into force on 28 December 2009.

Services Directive 2006/123 seeks to improve access to services throughout the European Union. It requires Member States to remove unjustifiable or discriminatory requirements affecting the setting up or carrying on of a relevant service activity in that country.

The Services Directive is implemented into national law via the Provision of Services Regulations 2009. The Department for Business Innovation & Skills has produced Guidance for Business on the Provision of Services Regulations.

In order to comply with the EU Directive, the Law Society has provided information regarding the application processes that a solicitor, or firm of solicitors will need to make, as well as accompanying guidance notes. 

Please note


Following the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union, the REL process will no longer be open to EU lawyers wishing to establish in Northern Ireland once the UK leaves the EU. Should the UK leave the EU with a negotiated deal in place, under current terms in this area the Establishment Directive would continue to apply until the end of the transitional period (31 December 2020).

In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the UK Government has put in place legislation (this includes Northern Ireland and England and Wales, with equivalent legislation introduced in Scotland) to unilaterally offer EU lawyers registered in the UK a grace period until December 2020 to either transfer to UK title, or to alter their business model accordingly. However, the process will close to new applicants.

The Services of Lawyers and Lawyer’s Practice (Revocation etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 can be found by clicking here 


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