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Great Repeal Bill must respect role of parliament

30 March 2017

The government's Great Repeal Bill must respect parliament’s role in making and approving changes to UK law, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.

The government's white paper outlines how existing EU legislation will be transposed into UK law to ensure continuity while the two-year exit negotiations take place. The bill is expected to be introduced in this spring's Queen's Speech.

The bill will impact thousands of pieces of legislation affecting every part of life - from consumer and environmental protections to almost all sectors of commerce and industry.

Law Society vice president Joe Egan said: "As well as repealing the European Communities Act, the Great Repeal Bill will take the UK out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

"Transposing EU legislation isn't straightforward. A lot of laws refer to the internal market or to EU institutions which will not be relevant post-Brexit. Also, ministers will be given powers to amend legislation to 'take account of the negotiations as they proceed' over the next two years.

"While we are pleased that the white paper recognises the need to balance appropriate parliamentary scrutiny with speed in this massive undertaking, the sheer volume of law which must be incorporated leaves scope for expediency by the government.

"EU legislation covers a lot of ground, nevertheless it is essential that parliament is able to scrutinise any significant changes to laws that govern our lives."

In Wales, areas of EU policy such as farming, fisheries, the environment and economic development are a matter for the Welsh government.

Joe Egan added: "There are clearly complex issues around which EU powers return to Westminster, and which sit more appropriately with the devolved administrations. This underlines the importance of the government releasing a draft bill, so everyone can see the detail of what it means for devolution."

Ends

Notes to editors

Law Society of England and Wales spokespeople are available to comment on Brexit. The Law Society has done extensive work on the impact of Brexit on the legal sector - more information can be found in our report Brexit and the law.

Find out more about Brexit and the legal sector.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

 Press office contact: Ben Davies | Ben.Davies@LawSociety.org.uk | +44 (0)20 7316 5592