New Lord Chancellor tells judges he wants good outcome from Brexit negotiations

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The new Lord Chancellor David Gauke has told senior judges he wants a "good outcome" for the legal profession from the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

During his swearing in ceremony in London on Thursday, the Conservative MP for South West Hertfordshire said there must be "close and comprehensive arrangements" for judicial co-operation with the EU after the UK leaves the union.

The former solicitor, the first legally-qualified Lord Chancellor since Ken Clarke left the office in 2012, said: "English Law and UK courts provide the certainty, clarity and flexibility that clients from around the world want."

He added: "I know just how important this sector is, not just for London, but for cities and regions across the UK.

"That's why I want an outcome from our negotiations with the EU that is good for our legal system and good for our position as a provider of legal services around the world, one that protects and promotes a strong and successful legal services sector.

"That means ensuring close and comprehensive arrangements for civil judicial co-operation with the EU after Brexit.

"It means a legal services sector that benefits from and serves as a catalyst for future trade."

Lord Chancellor David Gauke (left) poses for a photo with Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd (centre) and Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton (right) as he arrives for his swearing-in ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
New Lord Chancellor David Gauke (left) with Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd (centre) and Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton (right) (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Addressing leading members of the judiciary, including Supreme Court President Lady Hale and the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, he said: "I want to see London continue to be an international hub for finance and legal services, but also see legal services continue to grow and thrive in regional centres serving as specialist hubs."

Lord Burnett also touched on Brexit, saying work must be done to ensure "appropriate legal instruments" are in place to provide continuity and support for courts as the country leaves the EU.

Mr Gauke, 46, is the fourth Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary in three-and-a-half years, replacing David Lidington following Theresa May's Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.

.@DavidGauke: I want people to have confidence in every part of their justice system pic.twitter.com/uCa37fdTGz

-- Ministry of Justice (@MoJGovUK) January 18, 2018

Mr Lidington took over the office - which can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times - from Liz Truss, who was the first woman to hold the post since the 12th century.

Mrs Truss's time in the role was mired in controversy when she was criticised for failing to defend the judges involved in a landmark ruling on Brexit, who were branded "enemies of the people" in some press coverage.

Liz Truss shortly before her swearing in as Lord Chancellor at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Liz Truss shortly before her swearing in as Lord Chancellor at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Lord Thomas, then Lord Chief Justice, said Mrs Truss had a duty to defend the judiciary and had taken a position that was "constitutionally, absolutely wrong" by saying she would not criticise the media.

During his speech on Thursday, Mr Gauke said he would be "steadfast" in his commitment to "defend the independence of the judiciary".