On 5 December, the Brussels Office, in conjunction with Flinn Law and The Bingham Centre for Rule of Law, held an event discussing the implementation of Brexit from a Rule of Law perspective, covering such topics as EU citizens in the UK, data privacy and the protection of personal data and dispute resolution.
The event was co-hosted by:
- Molly Scott Cato MEP
- Alyn Smith MEP
- Catherine Bearder MEP
- Sajjad Karim MEP; and
- Clare Moody MEP.
The event took place as a panel discussion, with a range of speakers covering their area of expertise.
Jack Simson Caird, from the Bingham Centre for Rule of Law, discussed the mechanisms of the Meaningful Vote, and the implications different outcomes may have. Jack pointed out that Brexit has shown the United Kingdom’s domestic constitutional process to be wanting, highlighting a lack of transparency and ability to scrutinise.
Michael Clancy, of The Law Society of Scotland, discussed Brexit from the position of devolved authorities, stating that Brexit has exposed the structure to new stresses never seen before. Michael described the ongoing debate over whether the Withdrawal Agreement as drafted deprives the Scottish Government of powers or not. On the Rule of Law, Michael echoes Lord Bingham’s words: it must be clear, accessible and predictable.
Professor Charlotte O’Brien from York University addressed Brexit’s effect on EU citizens, highlighting that the Withdrawal Agreement as drafted would not protect those citizens falling through the gaps in terms of rights to remain. Charlotte also highlighted the risk of administrative injustice, stating that in times of legal transition there are significant delays, error and confusion.
Helena Raulus, the Head of the Brussels Office of the UK Law Societies discussed the potential implications in mechanisms for dispute resolution, in tandem with political developments. Helena pointed out that there needs to be a way for all EU citizens to enforce their rights and access the Courts post-Brexit.
Leonard Hawkes of CIPP/E and Flinn Law approached the issue from an entirely different angle, discussion data privacy and the impact Brexit might have on existing regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulations.
Finally, Hazel Cameron, Senior Counsellor, Justice and Home Affairs Section, UK Representation to the EU, reaffirmed the UK Government’s commitment to protecting the Rule of Law and fundamental rights throughout the Brexit process, highlighting points in the Withdrawal Agreement that specifically mentioned the Rule of Law.
The panel discussion was followed by a fascinating question and answer session, where many of the 60-strong audience raised their concerns and shared their ideas. Alyn Smith MEP, closing the event, stated that it had been a great example of how people can work together cross-party to represent the interests of the nation on the issues of Brexit.