Brexit—key legislation explained
Produced in partnership with Dr. Kieran Laird of Gowling WLG
Brexit—key legislation explained

The following Public Law practice note Produced in partnership with Dr. Kieran Laird of Gowling WLG provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Brexit—key legislation explained
  • Background—EU law in the UK
  • Pre-exit day
  • Post-exit day
  • EU law in the UK after Brexit
  • The implementation period—EU legislation
  • The implementation period—EU case law
  • After the implementation period—retained EU law
  • Amending retained EU law
  • After the implementation period—EU case law
  • More...

Background—EU law in the UK

Pre-exit day

The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA 1972) was introduced and intended to give effect to the UK's obligations as a Member State under the relevant EU treaties to comply with EU law.

Under ECA 1972, s 2(1), certain types of EU rights and obligations, which are intended to be directly effective, were given effect in the UK without the need for any further domestic legislation. This included rights in the EU Treaties as well as EU regulations which contain detailed legal rules.

Other types of EU law were given effect through UK regulations made under ECA 1972, s 2(2), or in some cases through separate Acts of Parliament. This included EU directives which set out broad outcomes or frameworks but which leave it to each Member State to make its own provision to achieve the required legal effect.

In terms of its application in Member States, EU law is ‘supreme’. This means that where there is a conflict between EU law and a Member State’s domestic legislation, the latter can be disapplied—a principle which provides the only circumstance in which a UK court can disapply an Act of Parliament.

ECA 1972, s 3(1) provided that UK judges were also bound to follow decisions by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Over the last 40 or so years, EU law has come

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