The report by Michael Cross on the ‘great repeal bill’ draws attention to our regained judicial freedom from the judgments of the European Court of Justice post-exit day. However, it is worth spelling out that UK courts will be bound by all EU law it does not abolish by exit day. ECJ rulings on what EU law means prior to that date have to be followed by the UK courts in the same way as domestic law precedents, which cannot easily be departed from.
Just to take one of many thousands of examples, European Environmental Impact regulations and their modifications have to be treated as UK domestic law – and the Supreme Court has to follow ECJ judgments on what they mean that have been handed down by the European court up to exit date. Judgments handed down post-exit date can even be followed if the UK courts want to follow them.
To judge from the ‘great repeal bill’, as with the arrival of Billy Bunter’s fabled postal order, ‘taking back control’ is not imminent. Indeed, like the promised £350m weekly rebate for the NHS, it might not actually arrive at all.
Stephen Hornsby is partner at
Goodman Derrick, London