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UK government rejects direct jurisdiction of ECJ

23 August 2017

A policy paper released by the government on 23 August insists the UK will not be under the "direct jurisdiction" of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit.


Ministers are looking for a "special partnership" with the EU, but it is "neither necessary nor appropriate" for the ECJ to police it.


However, critics such as the Open Britain Group, say the use of the word "direct" means the ECJ could still play a role following Brexit.


Justice Minister Dominic Raab has said: "We're leaving the EU and that will mean leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.”


The Minister said there would be "divergence" between UK and EU case law after Brexit. He said: "It is precisely because there will be that divergence as we take back control that it makes sense for the UK to keep half an eye on the case law of the EU, and for the EU to keep half an eye on the case law of the UK."


Labour MP Chuka Umunna, speaking on behalf of Open Britain, claimed: "Nothing the government says it wants to deliver from Brexit - be it on trade, citizens' rights, or judicial co-operation - can be achieved without a dispute resolution system involving some role for European judges."


Rulings by the ECJ are binding on all member states, and it takes on the task of settling disputes between countries and EU institutions.


Today's publication contends there are a "variety of precedents for resolving disputes that may arise between the UK and the EU" without the ECJ having direct jurisdiction.


Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: "The prime minister's ideological insistence that there can be no future role whatsoever for the ECJ or any similar court-like body risks preventing the deal Britain needs."


Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable believes the ECJ had "served Britain's interests well" and should not be "trashed".


The UK government claimed that its positioning paper offers certainty to businesses and individuals. And it suggested that dispute resolution could be designed around the issue at stake in each agreement.

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