Published: 28 August 2017
The UK Government recently conceded that it will be essential to maintain a continued formal judicial relationship with the EU following Brexit. They have stated, within a paper on civil judicial cooperation, that the UK will seek an agreement that allows for ‘close and comprehensive cross-border civil judicial cooperation on a reciprocal basis’.
This particular position paper is one of many that have recently been published, identifying the UK’s stance for the next round of Brexit negotiations. Many professional legal bodies have suggested that while the proposals are a positive step in the right direction,the finer details of any agreements will be the most important element of the deal.
A word from the professionals
Christina Blacklaws, the vice president of the Law Society, said: ‘Civil justice cooperation rules set the basic parameters that let us live, work and play across Europe. They allow us clear ways to resolve problems when they occur across borders, and give business defined rules to follow with the confidence UK business needs to trade and invest. Making sure these clear and effective rules continue or are replaced will be a vital part of making Brexit work.’
She also went on to suggest that it was very encouraging that the Government is listening to concerns put forward by the legal profession and giving civil justice cooperation the high priority that it needs. Blacklaws did, however, say that the Government faces a tough task ahead to put these ideas into action to replace the agreements and institutions that are currently in place.
Daniel Eames, chair of Resolution’s international committee, said: ‘We agree that close cooperation with the EU is vital on family law matters post-Brexit. Without reciprocal rules, there can be no legal certainty in treatment with all the ensuing complications, delays and potential costs for families and children or local authorities undertaking their child protection function.’
What does the paper say?
It is thought that the proposals will spread controversy amongst many, particularly within those that see Brexit as a chance for a clean break from the EU. The paper describes how current conventions may provide rules for some areas, but they are unable to replace the interaction between legal systems that currently benefit businesses, families and individuals within the UK and the rest of Europe.
The paper states: ‘The optimum outcome for both sides will be an agreement reflecting our close existing relationship, where litigating a cross-border case involving UK and EU parties under civil law, wherever it might take place, will be easier, cheaper and more efficient for all involved. The UK will therefore seek an agreement with the EU that allows for close and comprehensive cross-border civil judicial cooperation on a reciprocal basis, which reflects closely the substantive principles of cooperation under the current EU framework.’
Family Law moving forward following Brexit
Bar Chair Andrew Langdon QC saw positives in the proposals, saying that ‘on the face of it’ the position paper consists of sensible proposals that show that ‘the government has been in listening mode’. He went on to suggest that the paper identifies benefits that everybody can mutually benefit from, of which can be expected from an ongoing co-operation between the UK and the EU. He said: “We are encouraged by the fact the government sees value in preserving much of what is already in place in existing arrangements between the UK and the EU, as well as the UK’s relationships internationally and third parties.’
The director of policy and strategy at TheCityUK, Gary Campkin, also commented saying: ‘We hope the EU recognises the UK’s proposals as the significant positive step they are and works with the UK to achieve the best outcome for businesses on both sides of the channel.’
Within the paper, it is also outlined that the UK will continue to abide by existing civil justice cooperation measures that are in place, such as the Hague Conventions on private international law and Lugano Convention on recognition of judgements.
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