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New law imposes fresh sanctions on Russia accessing UK legal expertise

  • tough new law to stop Russia accessing UK legal expertise
  • crackdown bolsters government-wide sanctions on goods and services

Wealthy individuals and big businesses linked to the Russian regime will be further restricted from accessing UK legal expertise to carry out deals that could bolster the nation’s war chest – further ratcheting up pressure on President Putin’s government.

A new law introduced today (29 June) by the government will prevent UK lawyers from advising Russian companies in certain business deals – thwarting the nation from benefitting economically from the UK’s world-leading legal expertise. This could include trade deals between global corporations, or international money lending.

The measure builds on existing sanctions put in place against Russia over the past year, which saw its companies restricted from accessing a range of legal advice and expertise from UK lawyers.

The new rules will extend existing regulations on Russia using UK legal professionals to facilitate certain commercial activity which benefits the country – and may block legal professionals from advising international companies on lending decisions to Russian businesses, for example.

Russia is highly dependent on Western countries for legal expertise, with the UK previously exporting £56 million in legal services to Russian businesses every year. Today’s news will further hold Putin’s government to account for the devastating atrocities being carried out in Ukraine.

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk, said:

The UK legal system underpins many international contracts and businesses, and we will no longer allow Russia to benefit from our knowledge and expertise.

The Russian regime must be held to account for its violation of international law, and these sanctions are increasing the economic pressure to further isolate the Russian Government from the rest of the world.

Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said:

We continue to crack down on Russia’s war machine, hold Putin to account, and make it harder for him to inflict suffering on the Ukrainian people.

Today we are further strengthening the UK’s sanctions approach, increasing measures to block Russia from benefitting from UK legal expertise.

The UK stands steadfast in our pledge to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

English and Welsh law is central to many international business and financial deals, and the UK is one of the leading providers of legal support and advice in such global transactions.

Further ramping up economic pressure on the Russian regime will continue to disrupt the nation’s crucial supply chains and further impact the services and goods export bans which are already targeted at vulnerable sectors of its economy.

Today’s regulations follow a punishing package of sanctions where the UK Government announced it would restrict transactional legal advisory services along with the export of almost 700 goods from the UK to Russia. This included hundreds of those which are critical for production in Russia’s manufacturing sector.

In total, £19 billion worth of UK-Russia trade has been wholly or partially sanctioned, based on 2021 trade flows.

The restrictions on legal services do not include legal representation for Russian nationals using UK legal expertise, ensuring that allowing everyone to access legal support remains a core aspect of the rule of law across the UK.

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