Changes to EU law could have ‘devastating impact’ on legal certainty in UK – Law Society

President warns that basic protections for workers could disappear

Changes to EU law could have ‘devastating impact’ on legal certainty in UK – Law Society

The Retained EU Law (Revocation & Reform) Bill could have a devastating impact on legal certainty in the UK, the Law Society Gazette has reported.

As the bill reached committee stage in the House of Commons, the UK’s Law Society president, Lubna Shuja, warned that the proposed measure would allow ministers to overhaul laws without appropriate parliamentary scrutiny or public oversight. “This raises uncomfortable questions for parliamentary sovereignty, legal certainty and the rule of law,” she said.

Under a sunset clause in the bill, many retained EU laws will expire at the end of 2023, the Gazette reported.

“Many basic protections for workers could disappear unless the government makes a proactive decision to keep EU-derived employment law,” Shuja said. “Workers would no longer be able to take paid annual leave, challenge an employer over equal pay, have pregnancy protections, take rest breaks, or have family-friendly policies such as maternity, paternity and parental leave.”

Significant regulatory divergence with the EU would make trade with the bloc more difficult for UK businesses, Shuia noted. 

“If the bill passes in its present form, businesses cannot have any certainty about the legal and regulatory landscape beyond 2023. This would have a chilling effect on investment decisions, damage the UK’s standing as an international business hub and the global reputation of English law for certainty and predictability,” she said.

“The Law Society therefore calls on the government to remove the arbitrary and unrealistic 2023 deadline in the sunset clause, to allow for a measured and thorough review of affected laws.”

Commenting on proposals in the bill to allow more UK courts to depart from retained EU case law, Shuja said: “Today in the UK, only the Supreme Court can deviate from EU law. Giving more courts the ability to deviate from EU law would be a major shift in the administration of justice. Different UK courts might then come to different, conflicting decisions. The Law Society believes the power to depart from retained case law should not be extended beyond the Supreme Court.”

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