DexEU to reveal how it will scrap "direct" ECJ jurisdiction after Brexit


ECJ: No "direct" jurisdiction - but is it what was promised? (Source: Getty)

Brexit will end “direct” jurisdiction of the European courts in Britain, the government will tomorrow confirm - as business groups highlight the need for some form of legal cooperation to continue.

The Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) will today state that “after Brexit, the UK will take back control of its laws”.

The latest in a wave of position papers will argue that from March 2019, the UK will no longer come "directly" under the remit of the Courts of Justice for the European Union, which comprises the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the General Court and the European Civil Service Tribunal.

The paper, due to be published this afternoon, will argue that it is “not necessary or appropriate”, and indeed would be “unprecedented”, for the CJEU to have direct jurisdiction over a non-member state. It is expected to highlight examples of current methods to resolve disputes without the CJEU’s direct jurisdiction, and will outline “guiding principles behind the UK’s approach”.

A government spokesperson said: “We have long 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 UK.

“It is in the interests of both the UK and the EU, and of our citizens and businesses, that the rights and obligations agreed between us can be relied upon and enforced in appropriate ways. It is also in everyone’s interest that, where disputes arise between the UK and the EU on the application or interpretation of these obligations, those disputes can be resolved efficiently and effectively.

Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said “While we accept it is the Government’s intention to end the direct jurisdiction of the CJEU as a consequence of leaving the EU, it is imperative that this be done in a measured and pragmatic way. The emphasis here should be on ending its direct effect, not trying to throw off the influence of the Court altogether.”

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who backs the Open Britain campaign for the UK to remain a member of the single market, claimed the proposals showed a weakening on the government’s position regarding sovereignty.

“Ministers consistently defend their decision to pull us out of the single market because of their self-imposed red line on ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. But their sudden shifting of the goalposts to ending only the ‘direct’ jurisdiction of the ECJ suggests they are paving the way for some sort of climbdown,” he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable also suggested the proposals amount to a watering down of the government's previous hardline on ECJ jurisdiction. “We welcome this sensible and long overdue climbdown by the Prime Minister,” the pro-Remain MP said. “It shows Theresa May’s red lines are becoming more blurred by the day.”

Tomorrow’s paper follows one published today, outlining the government’s aims for “close co-operation” with European courts over cross-border civil disputes.

"Agreeing a system for future cooperation on civil justice matters is crucial for EU citizens living in the UK; UK citizens living in the EU and for the tens of thousands of businesses that buy, sell and invest across borders," the paper said.