Alexandra Cardenas looks at the progression of the Brexit bill and the government’s consultation on soft tissue injury claims.
There were some positive references for the legal sector, and we will continue to advance our priorities with the government to ensure that we get the best deal for the legal sector.
The president gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee on Brexit and the legal sector.
This week, the 'Brexit' Bill progresses to committee stage and report stage, after which it will move on to the Lords if it is approved by the House of Commons. There will be a number of select committee hearings looking at Brexit issues and the Justice Select Committee will hold a one-off session on the government’s consultation on soft tissue injury claims.
This week in parliament
Monday 6 February
House of Commons
- European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - Committee stage (day 1) - Committee of the whole House
- Work and Pensions Select Committee oral evidence session on self-employment and the gig economy, with:
o Graham Baines, courier, Hermes
o Steven Rowe, private hire driver, Uber
o Peter Jamieson, former courier, Hermes
o Syed Khalil, private hire driver, Uber
o Jane Cordell, director, Result CIC
o Sara McKee, founder and market innovation director, Evermore Wellbeing
o Robert Winstanley, entrepreneur
Tuesday 7 February
House of Commons
- European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - Committee stage (day 2) - Committee of the whole House
- Justice Select Committee – one-off session on the government consultation on soft tissue injury claims
o James Dalton, Association of British Insurers
o Neil Sugarman, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
- International Trade – UK trade options beyond 2019. Witnesses include:
o Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, former Trade Minister
o Lesley Batchelor OBE, director general, Institute of Export
o Marcus Dolman, co-chair, British Exporters Association
o Mohammed Razzaque, economic adviser, Commonwealth Secretariat
o Dr Peg Murray-Evans, research associate, Department of Politics, York University
o Lord Marland, chair, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council
o Professor Nauro Campos, professor of economics and finance, Brunel University
- Debate on the report from the EU Committee 'Brexit: future UK–EU security and police cooperation'
Wednesday 8 February
House of Commons
- European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - Committee stage (day 3) - Committee of the whole House, report stage and third reading
- Exiting the EU Select Committee – The UK’s negotiating objectives for its withdrawal from the EU, witnesses include:
o Michael Clancy, director Law Reform, Law Society of Scotland
o Professor Nicola McEwen, professor of politics, University of Edinburgh
o Professor Alan Page, professor of public law, University of Dundee
o Michael Russell MSP, minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Scottish
- Procedure Committee – Delegated powers in the ‘Great Repeal Bill’
o Rt Hon David Davis MP, secretary of state for exiting the European Union
- Short debate - Extent to which the Competition and Markets Authority is in meeting its objective of promoting competition
House of Lords
- Lords oral questions - Assessment of the composition and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court
- Joint Committee on Human Rights – human rights and business inquiry oral evidence session
Thursday 9 February
House of Commons
- Debate on EU Committee report: ‘Brexit and financial services’
House of Lords
- Lords oral questions - Protecting consumer rights after the UK leaves the EU
Friday 3 February
Last week in parliament
Monday 30 January
House of Commons
- European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - second reading (Day 1)
- EU Justice Sub-Committee - oral evidence session on Brexit: civil justice cooperation with Sir Oliver Heald MP, minister of state, Ministry of Justice
- International Trade Select Committee - oral evidence session on UK trade options beyond 2019
- Home Affairs Select Committee – oral evidence session on Implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union with Amber Rudd MP, home secretary
House of Lords
European Arrest Warrant
Tom Brake (Lib Dem, Carshalton and Wallington) asked the Home Secretary how many times the European Arrest Warrant has been used to bring to, or extradite from, the UK people suspected of (a) child sex offences, (b) rape and (c) murder in each of the last three years. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism Sarah Newton said the National Crime Agency publishes annual statistics on the number of European Arrest Warrants either issued by the UK or received. See these figures on the National Crime Agency website.
Tuesday 31 January
House of Commons
Home secretary answers questioned on EU security and criminal justice and immigration
The home secretary, Amber Rudd MP, and director of the Immigration and Border Policy Directorate at the Home Office, Glyn Williams, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on the implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union. Throughout the session Rudd stressed that continued intelligence sharing with the EU is to the benefit of the EU as well as the UK, as the UK is such a big contributor. She noted that the government is aiming for the closest possible relationship with the EU on security matters.
The main points from the session were:
Europol - Rudd said that Europol is very important and that she hopes the UK will have an ongoing role within in, but whether it is full membership or some sort of associate membership will be part of negotiations. She added that the indications from European friends are that they would like the UK to play a role in EU security measures, including Europol. She hopes for a closer relationship with Europol than the US currently has, which would be a bespoke arrangement.
European Investigation Order - Rudd said that again this is helpful and will form part of discussions as the UK leaves the EU.
Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) jurisdiction - When asked if continued intelligence sharing would mean accepting CJEU jurisdiction on data, Rudd said there would be some sort of negotiation, but that the PM has made it clear that the UK is leaving the jurisdiction of the CJEU, and it would still be British Parliament and British law deciding on this. When pushed by the chair on what would happen if CJEU jurisdiction is the only way to access those databases, Rudd conceded that access to data would require some sort of independent body.
Immigration cap – Rudd said that the government is looking at how to support businesses in any new immigration system to make sure they can access the workers they need. It is also doing work to look at the impact on different businesses, and different regions.
Immigration target - On failure to reduce net migration to 100,000, Williams said that immigration levels and visas have gone down, but that the target is not written in stone. Rudd noted that she would not speculate on a new number, but would work to reduce net migration as a whole.
Visas - Rudd said that the EU is considering putting in place an electronic travel authority, partly for security measures. This is something the UK may look it. However, the UK will seek to avoid having visa travel as with other countries.
EU nationals - Rudd noted that the prime minister wants to move to an early resolution to allowing EU nationals living in UK to stay, provided there is a reciprocal arrangement. Rudd said she hopes that the government can move swiftly on this after triggering of Article 50, and that the government is preparing options for this.
Wednesday 1 February
House of Commons
The president gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the impact of Brexit on justice system alongside:
- Andrew Langdon QC, chair, Bar Council
- Simon Gleeson, partner, Clifford Chance
- Alison Hook, co-founder, Hook Tangaza
The session was cordial and the committee seemed very appreciative and interested in the impact on the legal services sector specifically. Robert’s evidence was informative and conveyed our key priorities on Brexit including practice rights and civil co-operation with EU member states.
The key points were:
Contribution of the legal sector - Robert noted that English law and the work of English and Welsh solicitors underwrite business transactions across the world. He noted the economic contribution of legal services is £26 billion a year and £3.6 billion to the balance of payments.
- Reaction to the prime minister’s recent speech - Robert said that the government has recognised the importance of mutual recognition of judgments, noting that the ‘infrastructure of justice’, was of benefit for both the UK and the rest of the EU.
Access to the EU market – if the UK falls back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the treatment of lawyers in the EU would be considerably worse. He noted that there would be the possibility in some countries that UK lawyers would not be able to practise home law or have a commercial presence.
Legal professional privilege – All witnesses emphasised the importance of UK lawyers to retain legal professional privilege within the EU.
Court of Justice of the European Union - Simon Gleeson noted that it is likely that CJEU judgments will still have persuasive authority on the UK, as the courts will continue to look at the CJEU when interpreting legislation.
Movement of lawyers – there has been no downturn in legal business yet but as we get closer to the UK leaving the EU this many change. If some financial institutions, such as the Stock Exchange, were to leave then legal services may go with it.
Negotiating with EU for legal priorities - Robert said that the UK government should emphasise the mutual benefit of UK lawyers in the EU and vice versa, particularly that EU lawyers work through the City. He noted that there are 60 EU firms in the UK, at least 3,000 European lawyers and that around 30 per cent of trainee lawyers at the Paris Bar are in Anglophone firms.
Government support – Robert noted that the government has been engaged on Brexit and we have met with Minsters and officials at a number of departments. He said that we are pleased to see that the lord chancellor has recognised the importance of the maintaining ‘the infrastructure’ we have with the EU on civil justice.
Lawyers requalifying in Ireland - Alison Hook noted that 806 solicitors requalified in Ireland last year which is more than double the amount that qualify in Ireland each year. Robert noted that a number of competition practitioners have taken this up.
Unified Patent Court - Robert noted that it would be a very positive economic impact on the UK if it were to still have the plan for a division of the Unified Patent Court in London and that it would support the industries that need good patent lawyers here.
Regulatory reform post Brexit - Robert said that there is a worthwhile discussion to be had on regulation, particularly if there were parliamentary time to review the Legal Services Act. However, as there is not, lawyers need to be able to concentrate on Brexit as the job in hand. He also noted with our European colleagues looking more closely at the jurisdiction and how we are regulated, it would not be a good time to make significant changes that could lead to questions about the quality of the profession.
Opportunities from Brexit - Simon Gleeson noted that the priority would be to expand in the pacific. He noted that liberalising legal services markets did not have a strong connection with free trade agreements as barriers are often due to regulation of lawyers by the local bars and law societies. Robert noted that the Law Society continues to work with the Indian government and Bar to try to liberalise the Indian legal services market and hope to sign a memorandum of understanding soon.
House of Lords
Lord Black of Brentwood asked an oral question in the House of Lords on what plans the government has for the UK patent sector after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, in particular in the light of their decision to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement.
Parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Lord Prior of Brampton said the government’s confirmed intention to continue with the process of ratifying the Unified Patent Court Agreement should not be seen as pre-empting the UK's position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU. He added that the options for the UK's intellectual property regime after EU exit, including the UK's future relationship with the Unified Patent Court, are being considered carefully.
Tuesday 2 February
The government published its Brexit white paper which outlines the UK’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union. The paper gives the 12 principles that the prime minister set out during her speech in mid-January. The key points from the white paper are:
Ensuring free trade with European markets
- On trade in services, legal services was specifically mentioned.
- The government said that it will prioritise securing 'the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods and services between the UK and the EU'. They reiterated that they would not be seeking membership of the Single Market, but will pursue an 'ambitious and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and a new customs agreement'.
- The government said they recognise that an 'effective system of civil judicial cooperation will provide certainty and protection for citizens and businesses of a stronger global UK.'
- On financial services, the UK government said they will seek the freest possible trade in financial services between the UK and EU Member States. It noted that the UK's and EU's 27 financial services were highly integrated so there was a legitimate interest in mutual cooperation arrangements that recognise this.
- On cross-cutting regulations, the government said the UK will seek to maintain the stability of data transfer between EU member states and the UK.
Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism
While there is nothing new on security in the paper, the government stresses that the safety of the UK public is a 'top priority for the government', reiterating that the UK will continue to be a 'major global player in the fight against threats to security'. The White paper lists the UK’s involvement and cooperation to Europol, the European Arrest Warrant, the Schengen Information System II, and the European Criminal Records Information System, before going on to make a general statement that the UK will look to negotiate the best deal it can with the EU to cooperate in the fight against crime and terrorism.
Taking control of our own laws
- As previously stated the government will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European (CJEU) in the UK but will continue to honour international commitments and follow international law. The government noted there will need to be a dispute resolution for the new relationship to reassure businesses and individuals that the terms of any agreement can be relied on but the format for this will be for the negotiations. The paper noted that there are a number of examples of dispute resolution in international agreements. The government notes that these would not have direct effect in UK law. On dispute resolution, the white paper states that mechanisms will be needed but the actual form of dispute resolution in a future relationship with the EU will be a matter for negotiations.
- As examples the government noted: EU- Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement; EU- Switzerland bilateral arrangements; NAFTA; Mercosur; New Zealand - Korea Free Trade Agreement; World Trade Organisation
Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU
The government said they want a phased process of implementation in which the UK, the EU institutions and member states can prepare for the new arrangements. They said that the time to phase in the new arrangements may differ but this was a matter for the negotiations. They specifically noted that they will not seek 'some form of unlimited transitional status'.
Providing certainty and clarity
- Introduction of the Great Repeal Bill to ‘convert the acquis into domestic law’. The Great Repeal Bill will aim to:
o Repeal the European Communities Act 1972
o Preserve EU law where it stands at the moment before we leave the EU.
o Enable changes to be made by secondary legislation to the laws that would otherwise not function sensibly once we have left the EU, so that our legal system continues to function correctly outside the EU.
- The government will be bringing forward a white paper on the Great Repeal Bill.
- The Free Movement Directive will no longer apply and the migration of EU nationals will be subject to UK law. There will be a new system that allows control of numbers and encourage the 'brightest and the best' to come to the UK.
- Parliament will have an important role in considering the new immigration system and there will be a phased process of implementation to prepare for the new arrangements.
Securing rights for EU nationals
The government will continue to work to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States, as early as they can.
Protecting workers' rights
- The Great Repeal Bill will maintain the protections and standards that benefit workers. Moreover, the government has committed not only to safeguard the rights of workers set out in European legislation, but to enhance them.
- The government is committed to strengthening rights when it is the right choice for UK workers and will continue to seek out opportunities to enhance protections.
Friday 27 January
Nothing to report.