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Changes to UK law, post-Brexit

Kerseys managing partner has highlighted that leaving the European Union will not affect our human rights – but some EU rules could come to an end.

Anthony Wooding said Britain will still have protection under the European Convention of Human Rights.

But EU regulations – such as roaming charge restrictions and bans on ‘bendy bananas’ – could go.

And limits on the hours we work or ability to arrest suspected criminals abroad could also be at risk.

Anthony, who has practised law for over 30 years, said: “Contrary to many people’s belief, our human rights, such as freedom of expression and right to privacy, are not affected by Brexit.

“These will come under the Convention and are not affected even if the Human Rights Act is itself appealed, which has not been raised as an issue.

“That had nothing to do with the referendum and is a separate international legal structure, pre-dating EU and indeed its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC).”

Anthony Wooding said employment and discrimination laws, while derived from the EU, are now embedded in British law.

He added: “These laws are not at risk simply by us leaving the EU, but would have to be repealed by Parliament. In some cases that could clash with human rights, so would not be possible anyway.

“The working time directive, which controls the hours we work and our holiday entitlement, for example, is part of our law. But it is very much associated with coming from the European Union and could be under threat. The same goes for child benefit for EU migrant workers.

“The European Arrest Warrant and sharing of intelligence provisions would have to be renegotiated. This could mean it would be difficult to arrest suspected criminals who flee the country.”

EU Regulations would not automatically be in force – needing to be set by the British Government. This could be time-consuming and costly.

These include rules around food and energy standards and safety. It also includes ‘the right to be forgotten,’ which protects people having links to their past being found on internet search engines.

Anthony, who is a member of the Suffolk Bank of England Panel, which holds regular meetings to keep the bank informed about the state of the economy in the county, said the exit could affect business contracts.

He said: “There is actually strictly no such thing as law of ‘Europe.’ All countries have their own legal systems, which in part apply law which is made by EU.

“Contracts with European parties are still binding because they are a matter of agreement between private parties. International contracts always state the law from which country would apply.

“But there will be thousands of EU Regulations to look at, such as financial service regulations, which control how the industry conducts its business across Europe.”

Competition Law, which helps manage pricing and practises to prevent anti-competitive behaviour or one firm dominating a market, is essentially UK statute and not likely to change, but contains a provision that it is to be interpreted in accordance with decisions of  the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg (not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg). So to that extent there will be no escape from Europe unless that provision is separately repealed.

Anthony, who is an accredited civil mediator and helps parties resolve disputes without having to go to court, said: “In order to have the a right to do business in Europe, or work with European financial services products, there will have to be many more new rules negotiated.

“Also there is the whole thorny question now of to what extent we will have to accept freedom of movement in order to gain access to the single market. This is something Boris Johnson has said we still need to do.”

The European Convention of Human Rights was signed in 1949 before Britain joined the EU and is separate from the referendum question. Indeed British lawyers after the War had a big hand in drawing up the Convention

Britain is part of the Convention along with 46 other countries, many of which are outside the EU, including Russia.

Britain would have to leave the Convention to be exempt from decisions on human rights by the European Court of Human Rights.

The legal impact of Brexit:

1. Human Rights, such as freedom of expression and right to privacy, will continue to be protected under the European Convention of Human Rights.

2. EU regulations – such as roaming charge restrictions and rules around food, safety and energy, could go unless they are readopted.

3. EU regulations concerning how financial service regulations conduct business across Europe could be affected.

4. EU directives such as on the hours we work or ability to arrest suspected criminals abroad could be at risk.

5. All countries have their own legal systems, which in part apply law which is made by EU.

6. Contracts with European parties are still binding because they are a matter of agreement between private parties.

7. Competition Law, which helps manage pricing and practises to prevent anti-competitive behaviour or one firm dominating a market, is essentially UK statue and not likely to change much but is still subject to the European Court of Justice currently.