Let’s start with a little confession: that title is a bit tricksy. Why? Because the second part of it is completely hypothetical. The judgments and decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) affect every employer and employee in the United Kingdom. This is not solely due to decisions affecting the interpretation of current UK Employment Law (such as workplace discrimination laws and working time regulations) but also through decisions affecting current and future business arrangements and/or impacting upon the UK economy. If the UK are truly to ‘take control of their laws’ (a constant Conservative buzzphrase), the logic is that the UK can’t be subject to the decisions of an EU court which changes the meaning of our laws.
However, there is another big question at stake here which is, after the terms of Brexit are agreed, who makes the decision as to which side is correct (UK or EU) if there is any future argument over incorrect application and/or breaking of Brexit terms.
By way of disclosure, I’m not going to state my personal views on whether Brexit is right or wrong here. What is clear is that the country has democratically voted to leave and the issue now is negotiating a reasonable exit on logical terms. On this front, I must admit, the current Conservative strategy of aggressive anti-EU comments, infighting and unreasonable and unrealistic bargaining positions has been disappointing.
On 23 August, the Government published their proposals for the future legal relationship between the UK and EU. Their paper is called “Enforcement and dispute resolution: A Future Partnership Paper” and can be found here. I don’t recommend it as bedtime reading – it’s dry, dull and extremely vague. However, some sections stand out and point to potential future effects on UK employers.Details