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Minister Charlie Flanagan launches the Brexit Legal Services Implementation Group

Announces former Taoiseach, John Bruton as Chair

The Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced that former Taoiseach, John Bruton, has agreed to accept the position of Chair of the Brexit Legal Services Implementation / Coordination Group.  The Group, which is being launched today (Friday) will support the effective realisation of the joint initiative of the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society of "Promoting Ireland as a leading centre globally for international legal services". 

Making the announcement regarding the Group’s chairmanship, Minister Flanagan said:

I am delighted that John Bruton has agreed to be Chair of the Implementation Group. He brings with him not only his wide political experience and standing at both national and international level, but also his previous successes in promoting our international financial services sector and as the EU’s representative in Washington.

This initiative, which aims to promote Ireland as a leading centre globally for international legal services, forms part of the Government’s response to Brexit.  It has been jointly proposed by the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society and it is strongly supported by the Government who agreed to establish the Implementation Group as well as IDA Ireland, the legal community, the Attorney General, the judiciary and relevant Departments.

Speaking of its potential, the Minister continued: 

The initiative recognises Ireland’s future competitive advantages post-Brexit as the only English speaking common law jurisdiction fully integrated into the European legal order. 

Both the Law Society and the Bar of Ireland are working together with IDA Ireland to secure this opportunity and in that they have the full support of my Department.

In launching the initiative and welcoming the Chair and members of the Implementation Group, Minister Flanagan continued:

I congratulate the Group on the occasion of its first meeting along with the legal community who have taken this key initiative. While the ultimate outcome of the Brexit negotiations remains to be seen, the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union will leave Ireland as the only English-speaking common law jurisdiction in the Union. We will be uniquely placed to provide expanded international legal, litigation and arbitration services.

Their work is a timely means of positively exploiting the competitive advantages of our courts and legal systems, which enjoy a high international reputation, in the provision of EU and other international legal services in a post-Brexit setting. It will also enhance Ireland’s international reputation in terms of the wider economy.

Note for Editors

On 9th May 2018 the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society (with the support of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association and the wider legal community) published their proposal entitled "Promoting Ireland as a leading centre globally for international legal services".

The proposal’s stated aim is to assist the Irish Government in its "key priority" to "minimise the impact on trade and the economy" of Brexit.  It is made with a view to being an integral part of a broad national economic response to Brexit and also, independently, to support existing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and generate increased Irish employment and tax revenue. 

The proposal has been supported in its development since 2017 by Minister Flanagan and officials of his Department and by the Departments of the Taoiseach, Business Enterprise and Innovation, Public Expenditure and Reform and of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It has also been strongly supported from the outset by IDA Ireland.

In January 2019 the Government formally agreed to support the initiative and that Minister Charlie Flanagan should establish an Implementation Group.  The Group has now convened to drive forward this key initiative under the chair of John Bruton (see biographical note below) and its membership comprises -

Chairperson – Mr. John Bruton

The Bar of Ireland – Patrick Leonard SC, Paul McGarry SC.

The Law Society – Patrick Dorgan, President and Mr. Liam Kennedy.

IDA Ireland – David Nolan, Senior Vice President and Eleanor Treanor

The Attorney General, Mr. Seamus Woulfe SC.

Senior officials of the Departments of an Taoiseach; Justice and Equality; Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform; Foreign Affairs and Trade and of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.


The key objective of the Implementation Group is to identify the best pathway to promote the use of Irish law and Irish legal services in contracts and transactions by communicating the existing advantages of Irish law, the Irish legal system and the Irish courts. This will inform the strategic approach and action plan on which the Group is now working and will announce in due course with details of its web-site. The Group is being supported with initial funding and secretarial support by the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society. This complements those wider supports that will continue to be provided by the Government and IDA Ireland, including through their respective missions and networks abroad and as part of our national Brexit strategy.

The attraction of Ireland in a post-Brexit setting will build on our status as an English-speaking common law country and remaining EU Member State with internationally reputable and enforceable legal and courts systems. We are also engaged in an ongoing process of modernisation and reform of our legal services and justice systems. These factors can also be a boost to the wider economy building on our highly developed international business and financial services sectors.

The full text of the 21-page initiative is available on the Bar of Ireland web-link


John Bruton - Biography

Personal Details

  • John Bruton was born in 1947 and graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and politics in 1968 before studying to become a barrister at the Honorable Society of Kings Inns in Dublin.
  • Mr. Bruton was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1972.
  • He is married to Finola Bruton and has 4 adult children.

Taoiseach, Minister, Parliamentarian

  • John Bruton became Taoiseach in 1994 at the head of a coalition Government which helped transform the Irish economy. In the year before he took office (1993) the Irish economy grew by 2.7%. During his time as Taoiseach (1994-1997), the Irish economy grew at an annual average rate of 8.7%, peaking at 11.1% in 1997. 
  • John Bruton was also deeply involved in the Northern Irish Peace Process leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
  • He was first elected to the Dáil in 1969 at the age of 22, becoming Leader of Fine Gael in 1990 and head of Government in 1994.
  • He previously served as Ireland’s Minister for Finance (1981-1982 and 1986-1987); Minister for Industry & Energy (1982-1983); Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism (1983-1986); and was Parliamentary Secretary (Junior Minister) from 1973-1977. He has also been opposition spokesman on Agriculture and on Education.

International Profile

  • John Bruton served as Ambassador of the European Union to the United States from 2004-2009. 
  • As Ambassador he met with the President and former Presidents of the United States and visited with governors, mayors, business leaders and students in over 20 US states to explain that the expanding European Union is good for the US economy and good for American jobs. In Washington, DC, Ambassador Bruton has had one-to-one meetings with over 250 Members of Congress to explain major EU developments and discuss the importance of the EU-US relationship in matters of trade, counterterrorism, public health, energy, the environment and the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights around the world.
  • As Taoiseach, Mr. Bruton addressed a joint session of the US Congress on September 11, 1996, as only the 30th head of state or government of an EU country to do so since 1945.
  • From 1999-2004, he was one of ten Vice Presidents of the European People’s Party,  which brings together the leadership of 74 European political parties, many of whom are in Government in their countries.
  • Mr. Bruton was a member of the Praesidium of the Convention which did most of the drafting of the Lisbon Treaty and chaired the Committee of the Convention on Justice and Home Affairs.
  • Since 2001 he has spoken on world, the European and Irish economic developments to influential business and political audiences in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and numerous EU Member States.
  • He was Chairman of IFSC, a private-sector body set up to develop the financial services industry in Ireland from 2010 to 2015.
  • Currently, he is a member of the boards of Ingersoll Rand, the Irish Diaspora Loan Origination Fund, PIMCO Ireland based funds, the Irish Institute for International and European Affairs, and the Centre for European Policy Studies.
  • He is chairman of the Public Interest Oversight Body of Deloitte in Ireland.  Additionally, he acts as an advisor to Fair Observer, focusing mainly on the areas of politics, finance, and economics, as well as on issues pertaining to Europe.