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Our two pence (or cents)

Our two pence (or cents)

Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UK FTA): Our two pence/cents

In addition to making it nearly impossible to secure a cheap package holiday to Europe, Brexit also put an end to the free movement of people and goods between the UK and the rest of the EU. Naturally, this led the UK government to explore other options for free trade on a more global basis.

Discussions for a free trade agreement between the UK & Australia have been rumbling away for years, and in June 2021, an ‘Agreement in Principle’ was reached. The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UK FTA) was officially signed by both countries in December 2021, and it took effect at midnight on May 31, 2023.

Quite a momentous occasion in history, given this is the first “new” trade deal the UK has signed since Brexit!

What’s new?

  • With the FTA in force, 99% of Australian goods exports to the UK now enjoy tariff-free access. Additionally, after 5 years, all UK imports into Australia will enter duty-free, reducing living costs for households and providing cost benefits for Australian businesses.

This is all well and good if you are an Aussie stuck in London craving Tim-Tams; currently identify as a pair of RM Williams or a box of bananas; or are a packet of Space Raiders in 5 years’ time, but perhaps more importantly, the A-UK FTA also addresses visa requirements for human beings (and lawyers), notably:

  • The age limit on working holiday visas has been increased from <31 to <35, allowing more people to make the move later in life (basically as soon as you buy an air fryer, call us).
  • The duration of working holiday visas has also been extended from 2 years to 3 in both countries.
  • Australia has also removed the requirement for regional work (typically farm work), as part of the working holiday visa – huge news for arachnophobic and acrophobic UK travellers (the latter of course being the well-known fear of ladders).

I’m a lawyer, why should I care?

Moving between Australia and the UK has been a well-established path for lawyers for many years. So much so, that Montgomery Advisory decided to open offices in both locations and currently help literally tens of people to make the move every year.

To keep Montgomery happy, the UK & Australian governments have wisely included an agreement for professional services, including lawyers in the body of the FTA. This agreement ensures mutual recognition of professional qualifications and licensing, fostering collaboration between accreditation and regulatory bodies in Australia and the UK, which is a long way of saying you won’t need to requalify in future! …well, in theory at least – it will be very interesting to see how many law firms (who are unsurprisingly risk-averse), lean into this in the short term.

For Irish-qualified lawyers looking at a move, it is still unclear how this FTA will impact you. Given the reciprocal qualifying agreement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, however, it’s reasonable to assume you too can benefit from the FTA. We would advise all ROI-qualified solicitors to take up the option of dual-admission in England & Wales for now, to streamline the process.

Would you like to know more?

 If you are looking to make a move in either direction and would like to speak to one of our consultants, please reach out to your local Monty contact in London or Sydney. It goes without saying that we would be delighted to have a call or meet for a coffee and discuss how to make your travel plans a reality.

Emma Barron

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