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Currently, judicial cooperation between the UK and EU is part of the EU area of freedom, security and justice. The EU has a set of instruments for mutual recognition, which have allowed a very flexible system of direct judicial cooperation to be designed based on the principle of mutual trust between judicial authorities.

For this reason, as regards judicial cooperation on civil and criminal matters, the UK's withdrawal from the EU will have an impact on legal practice, cross-border judicial procedures affecting both individuals and companies, and the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions.

Civil judicial cooperation is "communitised" pursuant to Article 81 of the Treaty of Functioning of the European Union. Its most important provisions are governed by the EU Regulations approved on this matter.

Equally, progress has been very significant in the matter of criminal judicial cooperation, applying very expeditious direct judicial cooperation procedures, such as the surrender of persons or taking of evidence. Thus, when the judicial authorities of one of two Member States ask the judicial authorities of the other to surrender suspected or sentenced persons, they do so based on the European Arrest Warrant. Similarly, when the judicial authorities of one of two Member States request the judicial authorities of the other to carry out an investigation in its territory, they use the European Investigation Order. Joint investigation teams can also be created on the basis of EU instruments, so that Spanish and British investigators may work together on the same case. Equally, the judicial authorities of one of the two states may obtain knowledge of sentences imposed in the other.

On 31 January 2020, following the UK's exit from the EU, an 11-month transition period begins during which - notwithstanding the consequences of the UK's withdrawal from the Union as regards the UK's participation in the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union - Union law, including international agreements, should be applicable to and in the UK and, as a general rule, with the same effects as regards the Member States, in order to avoid disruption in the period during which the agreement(s) on the future relationship will be negotiated.

For its part, the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Authority (2019/C 384 l/01), includes a number of provisions that define what happens with the ongoing judicial cooperation procedures during the transition period that have not been completed on 31 December 2020.

Article 62 refers to ongoing judicial cooperation proceedings in criminal matters; Article 66 to the applicable law in contractual and non-contractual matters; Article 67 to jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judicial resolutions and related cooperation between central authorities; Article 68 to ongoing judicial cooperation procedures; and Article 69 to other applicable provisions.

As of 1 January 2021, once the transition period has ended, the EU instruments will no longer be applicable; and except for the results of negotiations on future relations between the EU and the UK, judicial cooperation will be based on multilateral agreements applicable to both countries.

Judicial cooperation between Spain and the UK will in general be governed in civil matters by international agreements adopted within the framework of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and in criminal matters by the International Agreements adopted within the framework of the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

In addition, the Withdrawal Agreement also includes a reference to the recognition of professional qualifications, with specific mention of lawyers in Article 27 of the agreement.

Non official translation