House of Commons approves direct challenge to rule of law

The Internal Market Bill gives the government unprecedented scope to destabilise the rule of law, the Law Society of England and Wales said as the legislation passed its third reading in the House of Commons and moves on to the Lords.

Law Society president Simon Davis said: “The House of Commons has approved a bill that represents a direct challenge to the rule of law.

“The rule of law is undermined if a government takes the view that laws – international or domestic – can be broken. If a government breaks laws it breaks trust with its own citizens and international partners.

“As it stands, the Internal Market Bill risks undermining our international reputation as a nation that is true not only to its word but consistent in its application of the rule of law.

“At a time when arguably we need to be building bridges, we should not be putting the UK’s reputation as a trustworthy and predictable trade partner in doubt.

“This could have a long-term effect on the UK’s standing and on our ability to strike deals with other countries. The effects could be felt not just in government, but by businesses seeking to trade internationally and by families and consumers who rely on recognition of legal frameworks across borders.”

Of clauses in the bill that limit judicial review of decisions made by government or public bodies, Simon Davis said: “The Internal Market Bill introduces measures to limit government accountability, blocking legal challenges based on incompatibility with domestic or international law.

“The purpose of judicial review is to determine whether public authorities are acting in accordance with the law. Without this check, fundamental constitutional principles, such as parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law, are weakened.

“We urge peers to uphold the rule of law through amendments to the bill.”

Notes to editors

For interviews, please contact Harriet Beaumont on 0208 049 3854

Law Society and Bar Council joint briefing on the Internal Market Bill 

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Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | 0208 049 3854 (out of hours 0203 189 1880)

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