The new Labour City Lawyers network was launched on Wednesday 21 March 2018. Over 20 SLL members joined Jonathan Reynolds MP, the shadow City minister, for a round-table discussion.
On Brexit, attendees were keen to obtain assurances on maintaining passporting rights for the financial services. Jonathan was keen to stress that Labour cannot reject the referendum and that there must be a change to our regulatory model to reflect a rejection of the ‘four freedoms’ of the EU. However, an obvious priority in his role as a shadow treasury minister will be maintaining financial stability during a transition, and decisions affecting market access ought to be ‘at the easier end of the scale’.
Jonathan criticised the government’s approach to enforcement of anti-money laundering laws, arguing that they talk a good game but are unwilling to move at the scale required, as exemplified by their lack of action against Russian nationals in the wake of the Salisbury nerve-agent scandal. Daniel Jones, who we thank for hosting this meeting, asked what Labour would do to clamp down on the illicit use of British Overseas Territories. In response, Johnny outlined a policy of registration of beneficial ownership, saying that ‘clearly the time for transparency has come’.
On diversity and Equal Pay, YLL chair Deeba Syed pointed out recent statistics showing a ‘staggering’ gender pay-gap in the disclosed wages of employees City law firms, and noted that the figures are skewed by excluding equity partners. Jonathan agreed that the current voluntary reporting regime is non-proportionate and ineffective. He sign-posted Dawn Butler’s International Women’s Day policy announcement that Labour will impose a requirement on employers to take action in closing their gender pay-gaps. He heard suggestions from SLL chair Kate O’Rourke on how to obtain usable and comparable statistics by ordering them to be published in a compulsory format, broken down to show those at newly qualified or partner level separately.
We thank Jonathan for helping launch the group. In return, members of SLL have the opportunity to assist the shadow treasury team. As Jonathan put it, the current government could collapse in 4 years or 4 days: Labour’s government in waiting need expert legal advice and honest feedback to form robust, workable policies.
If you have an expertise in a particular area of commercial law, this is a perfect time to become more involved with SLL by: 1) contributing policy ideas through the City group or 2) emailing your CV to our executive committee and making yourself available to give advice to the PLP as and when requested.