One year on from the referendum which resulted in a vote to leave the European Union, many people in the United Kingdom are interested to know what the outcome will be on our legal system. If you are studying constitutional and public law through any of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs’ courses, you should already have a good appreciation of the effect the EU has on our country’s sovereignty; however, even the legal experts are scratching their heads and can only speculate on exactly what this country will be like in the future once this important influence has been removed from our constitution.
How do things stand at the moment?
At present, despite the fact there are completely different legal systems in the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (especially in Scotland, whose legal system is closer to France’s and Germany’s than to England’s), the United Kingdom, as a whole, has been legally obliged to incorporate a myriad different rules, regulations and laws into its legal system. From the right to move between and work in other EU states to the shape of our bananas, we are well aware of the fact that the EU has been in the background for well over 40 years changing and shaping the laws of this country.
By far the most important thing to note, at this current time, is the fact that up until we finally leave the EU in March 2019, this institution has the ultimate sovereignty over the courts and legal system of the United Kingdom. This means the European Court of Justice, rather than the Supreme Court, is actually the most senior-ranking court in this country.
Picking and choosing laws
Once we leave the European Union, our government will then need to painstakingly consider each and every rule and regulation that has been imposed on the UK through the EU and decide which are to be kept in the future and which are to be repealed, which in itself may be construed as a rather undemocratic process by many people and actually a real worry. When you consider the fact that well over 40 years’ worth of EU influence on our country would have effectively moulded this country’s overall constitution, can it be right that a roomful of people will be permitted to decide on the laws that are to be kept in the end? Especially if there could be a form of political agenda involved in the process.
Whether you love or hate the EU
No matter what your particular attitude is towards the EU, it must be acknowledged that everyone would have enjoyed the perks and laws of this institution in some way, shape or form during their life. This may have been their right to travel to and even work in Spain without any encumbrance, or perhaps they didn’t realise that a good number of the perks they enjoy in employment law have actually been derived from the Union.
Many people are of the opinion that the government will do its best to maintain the overall “status quo” when it comes to the laws of this country. If the government were to suddenly withdraw numerous perks and benefits that were entrenched in our laws through the EU, it is fair to say that it would have a tremendous rebellion on its hands – not least through the political opposition alone.
What we know for certain
Depending on the final outcome of the “divorce talks” between the UK and EU, it is fair to say that this country is most likely to regain its overall legal sovereignty. That means, in the future, our bicameral parliamentary system will solely be responsible for making and implementing the laws of this country. However, it is worth stating, even at this early stage, that there are bound to be some areas connected with the EU where our country will be obliged to respect its fundamental regulations and laws. Whether this centres on the freedom of movement between the EU states – which is of such importance to the EU and highly likely to be a condition of our acquiring any trade perks – or the right to enjoy favourable trade tariffs with the Union, our laws will still be affected by the EU in some way in the future. It really will be a matter of waiting and seeing what the outcome of the talks and negotiations are – so we’ll just have to batten down the hatches for now and leave them all to it.