Britain could be subject to European Court rulings until 2027, it emerges


Britain could be subject to rulings by the European Court of Justice for years after the UK leaves the European Union, it has emerged.

This week the Government will publish its blueprint for how Britain will treat rulings by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, in civil court cases after Brexit.

Currently, UK legislation is subject to rulings made by the ECJ. But Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has made ending its oversight of British legal matters one of her Brexit “red lines”.

The paper will make clear that any judgments from cases which have been filed by the end of March 2019 will be respected.

But sources said it was up for negotiation whether ECJ rulings will apply in the two or three year transition period after 2019.

One source said: “This will be for the negotiation in terms of the structure of the interim deal.”

Given that some cases can take five years to resolve it could mean that British courts have to abide by ECJ rulings by 2027, if the transition period runs to March 2022.

The paper will also suggest that international disputes are determined by an ad hoc panel of judges from the Supreme Court and the country involved in the case.

A neutral judge will sit on a panel to rule on the case, The Telegraph understands. Other papers on data and civil judicial co-operation will also be published this week.

Earlier this month Britain’s most senior judge told the Government it must provide more clarity about how UK law will be developed after Brexit.

Lord Neuberger said Parliament must be “very clear” in telling the judges what to do about decisions of the ECJ after the UK leaves the EU.

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court
Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court

He said judges should not be blamed for misinterpretations if it is unclear.

Speaking to the BBC, Lord Neuberger said: “If [the Government] doesn’t express clearly what the judges should do about decisions of the ECJ after Brexit, or indeed any other topic after Brexit, then the judges will simply have to do their best.

“But to blame the judges for making the law when parliament has failed to do so would be unfair.

“If the UK parliament says we should take into account decisions of the ECJ then we will do so. If it says we shouldn’t then we won’t. Basically we will do what the statute says.”

The Government has insisted that UK courts will “continue to interpret EU-derived law using the ECJ’s case law, as it exists on the day we leave the EU.”

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