What the Great Repeal Act means for businesses
Government’s White Paper on Brexit does little to soothe worries of what’s to come
The Great Repeal Act seeks to soothe business worries around Brexit, but it may not go far enough.
Included in the British Government’s White Paper on Brexit strategy, released on the 2nd of February, The Great Repeal Bill is designed to limit legal shockwaves as Article 50 is triggered later this year.
It will convert most European Law directly into UK Law without any alterations, “[to] allow businesses to continue trading in the knowledge that the rules will not change significantly overnight and provides fairness to individuals whose rights and obligations will not be subject to sudden change.”
As David Elvin QC, a Barrister at Landmark Chambers, stated in a LinkedIn post, the intention is that “we [the UK] do not have a vacuum in many areas such as environment, procurement, social security, employment etc.”
The EU has until now overseen these areas, with U.K. law reflecting Europe’s decisions. As such, many laws and regulations will remain in place for some time after the triggering of Article 50.
For some who voted for Brexit, this might be a sticking point.
A significant portion of the UK’s fishing fleet desire a break from EU rules and regulations — few can forget the showdown on the Thames between Nigel Farage and Bob Geldof. The fishermen dislike the disparity between the environmental regulations they face under EU regulation and the relative freedom members of the European Economic Area, such as Norway and the Faroe Islands, have.
These members are subject to certain EU laws, but can avoid others, such as environmental fishing regulations.
As the UK Government considers its relationship with the EU post-Brexit, such regulations are open to change following The Great Repeal Bill. Most industries likely see changes in their regulations once the process of officially leaving the EU has been completed, as The Great Repeal Bill grants total autonomy to Westminster and the devolved administrations on EU law.
In Scotland, where the legal system differs from the Rest of the UK, the Scottish Government will have some control over many of the transferred laws.
Questions remain over the language of the proposed bill, particularly concerning “individuals whose rights and obligations will not be subject to sudden change”. The phrasing seems to suggest that some individuals’ rights and obligations will change during the Brexit process.
There are several potential explanations, from covering businesses wholly reliant on the UK/EU relationship to the potential for EU citizens living within the UK to lose some rights — if UK migrants within the EU also lose their rights.
This lack of specificity in both the White Paper and bill continues to offer little in the way of comfort to detractors of the government’s plans.
As Elvin said: “Under the ironic heading ‘providing legal certainty’ the paper indicates no more than we already knew with regard to what will have to be done and gives no further information as to what in substance is likely to happen.”
For more information, visit www.gov.uk.