The benefits of the Great Repeal Bill, legislation promised to smooth the transition to Brexit by transposing EU law into UK law, will fail unless the government can devise ways to take account of developments in EU law.
Hearing evidence from the Law Society, the Bar Council and consumer group Which?, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Legal and Constitutional Affairs was told legislation would transpose only a ‘snapshot’ of the legal position into UK law.
David Greene, chair of the Law Society’s legal affairs and policy board, warned that ‘consumers… like many other people’ would need to ‘seek the status quo, and a development from it’. ‘It is not enough to legislate,’ Greene added. ‘We will have to negotiate.’
The all-party hearing centred on the legal implications of Brexit for consumers and small businesses. Apart from the challenge of accommodating legal developments, key areas would not be assisted by the repeal bill.
The ability to recover debts required specific recognition of jurisdiction. ‘This underpins our exports and imports,’ chair of the Bar Council’s Brexit working group Hugh Mercer QC said. Without jurisdiction agreements ‘layers of uncertainty [will be] litigated’, he added.
Which? director of policy Caroline Normand said the continuation of consumers’ economic confidence was reliant on maintaining the regulation of goods and services and the existence of redress. ‘None of the 12 points of the [Brexit] White Paper relates to consumers,’ she noted.
The hearing was chaired by Labour MP and former barrister Nick Thomas-Symonds.