Sunset clause extension necessary, Law Society counsels government

The Retained EU Law Bill would rock legal certainty in the UK and undermine the country’s status as an internationally competitive business environment, the Law Society of England and Wales said as the bill enters its final stage in the House of Commons on 18 January 2023.

Law Society President Lubna Shuja said: “The speed at which government proposes to review retained EU law is a recipe for bad law-making.

“As it stands, the bill would entail bypassing parliamentary scrutiny and stakeholder consultation by giving ministers the power to independently revoke, restate, replace or update retained EU law.

“The net result of this unnecessary haste and over-reach is likely to be a period of uncertainty over the status of regulations that would affect consumers, business, government departments and the courts.

“The Law Society urges government to extend the timeline for reform and remove the deadline of 31 December 2023 for reviewing retained law.

“If enacted as is, the bill could lead to different interpretations of the law by different courts, and to the nations of the UK enforcing different regulations. This would not only unbalance the devolution settlements, it could also lead to legal confusion for businesses and consumers for decades to come.

“Clause 7 takes the highly unusual step of giving powers to the law officers – the attorney general, the solicitor general and the advocate general – to interfere in civil litigation after a case has concluded. This is contrary to the interests of justice and the rule of law.

“Our members – solicitors – are particularly concerned workers could lose access to long-established rights that now form an integral part of Britain’s reputation as a fair society, such as holiday pay or protection against fire and rehire.

“We call on the government to publish an exhaustive list of every piece of legislation being revoked under the sunset clause, to ensure adequate scrutiny of what will be lost.”

Notes to editors

For a copy of the Law Society’s parliamentary briefing on the Retained EU Law Bill, contact the press office.

About the Law Society

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Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | 020 8049 3854

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