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UK Hints At Reducing Civil Law Ties With EU

23 August 2017

"We have always been clear that in leaving the EU we will bring an end to the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the United Kingdom", a government source said.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said for nine months that Europe's top court would have no say over United Kingdom law.

The Government is vowing to end the "direct jurisdiction" of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom as it sets out its keenly awaited plans for Britain to take back control of its laws after Brexit.

Echoing the Government's position paper on customs arrangements, the document calls for an "interim period" after March 2019 to allow the new legal system to be implemented.

There is speculation that Wednesday's paper on the ECJ will suggest using the so called EFTA court as a model for resolving future EU-UK disputes on issues such as citizens' rights.

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This position has already proven to be a sticking point in negotiations over the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom, with Brussels reported to want European courts to enforce the agreement.

"It is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union, and of our citizens and businesses, that the rights and obligations agreed between us can be relied upon and enforced in appropriate ways", a spokeswoman said.

"This paper takes the next steps as we prepare to engage constructively to negotiate our approach to this", the source said, referring to the fourth paper Britain has released this week to try to move the negotiations beyond discussion of a divorce settlement and on to future ties. "Despite what Leave campaigners appears that the Government realizes that European judges will have some say over what happens in Britain, whether we are in the Single Market or not", he said.

While making clear the U.K. will be "outside the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)" it said that a future U.K./EU judicial cooperation agreement should take into account "regional legal arrangements, including the fact that the CJEU will remain the ultimate arbiter of EU law within the EU".

"The government will end up taking back control from one court and immediately handing it to another - which is hardly what millions of people had in mind when they voted for Brexit".

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It is expected that the paper will argue that it is not "necessary or appropriate" for the ECJ to have direct jurisdiction over Britain once it becomes a non-member state.

The paper makes clear that the United Kingdom intends to apply for membership as an individual country of global judicial agreements in which it now participates through its European Union membership, including the Hague Conventions and the Lugano Convention.

"In particular, citizens and businesses need to have continuing confidence as they interact across borders about which country's courts would deal with any dispute, which laws would apply and to know that judgments and orders obtained will be recognised and enforced in neighbouring countries as is the case now". "We welcome this sensible and long overdue climbdown by the Prime Minister", the pro-Remain MP said.

He said: "The repeated reference to ending the "direct jurisdiction" of the ECJ is potentially significant".

Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, said the shift in language "appears to contradict the red line laid out in the prime minister's Lancaster House speech and the government's white paper [on Brexit]".

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UK Hints At Reducing Civil Law Ties With EU