Brexit has again dominated the headlines this month, and in this issue we take a closer look at some of the issues which have arisen following the UK Government’s notification under Article 50 that the UK will leave the European Union. Our viewpoint article this month is from Colin Passmore and Oliver Thomson who consider the implications of Brexit on legal professional privilege between the UK and the EU and the EEA.
We also have articles from the Law Society of Scotland and the Law Society of England and Wales (Wales Office) on the subject of Brexit and devolution. Furthermore, we set out some of the key figures who will be involved with the negotiat.ions from the Continent, along with the initial reactions to the UK’s triggering of Article 50.
Brexit and devolution
Article 50 TEU, together with Article 218 TFEU, set out the main procedures to follow. These follow closely the other EU procedures: the Commission will present a mandate, form a team, report to the Council, and the Council and the European Parliament will accept. The mandate proposal is likely to be tabled by the Commission is April. Meanwhile, the European Council has published draft negotiation guidelines.
Following PM May’s triggering of Article 50, Donald Tusk has published for the European Council the draft guidelines for the negotiations. This means that the UK and EU are entering the withdrawal negotiation process. While it is impossible to predict the outcome at this stage – there are simply too many unknowns – it is possible to say what will take place next: how the negotiations will be started and what will be on the menu at each stage.
The terms of the UK’s exit from the EU will apply equally to all the nations of the UK and the view from Wales is complex. The UK Government is leading the negotiations with the EU but since the turn of the century it no longer has an exclusive role in governing the UK. The distinct requirements of the devolved administrations are emerging.
Bernard Jenkin MP, Chairman of Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, described Brexit as a “whole-of-government project”.
The priorities of the legal sector in the UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from the EU in the field of criminal justice
The UK is considered by many to have been one of the leading states in shaping early EU policy in the area of criminal justice and policing. The UK Law Societies have historically supported the EU’s efforts to improve access to justice in a criminal context, particularly in relation to measures aimed at improving the rights of accused persons. Any reduction in the level of access and cooperation the UK enjoys in the criminal justice field would impair and delay effective law enforcement.
The priorities of the legal sector in the UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from the EU in the field of consumer law
Due to the nature of the single market and an increase in e-commerce, European consumers are now accustomed to buying products from across the EU and to travel for business and pleasure. The main uncertainties deriving from the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU for consumers are therefore situations surrounding travel abroad and EU cross-border transactions.
The priorities of the legal sector in the UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from the EU in the field of recognition and enforcement of judgements
Within the EU there is an almost complete legal framework for the choice of law, jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.
Whilst Theresa May has stated that a ‘running commentary’ on the Brexit negotiations will not be provided, there have been several updates from Westminster regarding the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU.
Allen & Overy’s Philip Wood CBE QC gives an insight into his firm’s paper, weighing up the pros and cons, risks and opportunities, for lawyers in the face of Brexit.