The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has now been published. The main purpose of the Bill is to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and bring to an end the supremacy of EU law in the UK.
Another principal purpose of the Bill is to convert EU law at it stands at the moment of Brexit into UK law and provide mechanisms to ensure that UK laws work properly after Brexit. This converted EU law is referred to in the Bill as ‘retained EU law’. Any changes to EU law after Brexit will not apply to the UK.
Decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) made after Brexit will not be binding on UK courts and tribunals and they will not be able to refer cases to the CJEU. Any questions relating to the interpretation of retained EU law will be dealt with by UK courts in accordance with pre- Brexit CJEU case law.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (the Charter) will not be converted into UK law. The Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) has stated that the Charter is comprised of rights drawn from a number of sources and many of these are provided for in domestic law under the Human Rights Act 1998.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has observed that knowing there will be a robust legal framework in the UK on Brexit is critical for business planning, and the need for clarity is growing quickly.
The significant challenges for the Government are apparent with the enormous amount of work to be done in preparation for Brexit in March 2019. Much of what the Bill aims to achieve is controversial and the precarious position of the Government, having lost its majority in the House of Commons, suggests there may be difficult times ahead.