• International Workplace
  • 12 September 2017

Enforcement and dispute resolution: how it will be enforced after Brexit

The UK Department for Exiting the European Union has issued a paper which discusses how enforcement and dispute resolution procedures may be implemented after the UK leaves the EU.

The paper, Enforcement and dispute resolution - a future partnership, is part of a series setting out key issues which form part of the Government’s vision for a new partnership with the EU. Enforcement and dispute resolution is an important issue because, in leaving the European Union, the UK will bring about an end to the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The ECJ is the judicial institution of the European Union and deals with disputes between parties. It has the important function of ensuring that European law is interpreted and applied in the same way in every member state.

However, as the UK will no longer be a member, the UK and EU need to agree on how both the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the new partnership, can be monitored and implemented to the satisfaction of both sides, and how any disputes which arise can be resolved.

The Government’s new paper, in discussing the options available, states that the UK wants to: 

  • maximise certainty for individuals and businesses;
  • ensure that it can effectively enforce its rights in a timely way;
  • respect the autonomy of EU law and UK legal systems while taking control of the UK’s own laws; and
  • continue to respect the UK’s international obligations.

According to the paper, the UK will take steps to implement and enforce its agreements with the EU within its domestic legal context. This will include providing for the appropriate means by which individuals and businesses can rely on and enforce rights contained in any agreements. This will be underpinned by the creation of international law obligations which will flow from the UK’s agreements with the EU.

The report states that the UK will engage constructively to negotiate an approach to enforcement and dispute resolution which meets the key objectives of the UK and the EU. It adds:

“The UK views enforcement and dispute resolution as two distinct issues, and it is not necessary, or indeed common, for one body to carry out both functions in this way. The UK has a long record of, and remains fully committed to, complying with international law.”

Commenting on the Government’s paper, TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said:

“Whatever our eventual relationship with the EU, working people need a legal system they can have confidence in. It must guarantee workers’ rights are respected and enforceable. Ruling out the direct jurisdiction of the ECJ suggests arms-length, watered-down justice. That could leave rights like paid holidays, equality protections and fairness for part-time workers at risk. It would be better to keep all options on the table.”


Read the full paper: Enforcement and dispute resolution - a future partnership paper